Goodbyes are never easy. Pierre Auguste Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party" is leaving its cozy upstairs room at the Phillips Collection, taking with it a glow warmer than the play of light at the National Gallery's East Building, richer than almost anything in the West Building. "Boating Party," considered by experts to be the most important impressionist painting in North America, and 74 other famous works are about to take to the road for an 18-month tour of museums in San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis and Atlanta.
This is the last weekend to say so long to it and to Degas' "Dancers at the Bar," Van Gogh's "Entrance to the Public Gardens at Arles" and Bonnard's "Open Window," along with important works by El Greco, Goya, Cezanne, Daumier, Manet, Gauguin, Braque and Picasso.
Meanwhile, lesser canvases will be taken out of storage to fill the walls while the masterworks are away. The good news, according to director Laughlin Phillips, is that "The absence of these 75 works for the traveling exhibition will give us a special chance to show off the depth of our collection."
LAST CHANCE WEEKEND: At the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street, N.W. Friday and Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday 2 to 7.