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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Country Dance” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

"Country Dance" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“Country Dance” by Auguste Renoir

“Country Dance” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir shows a dancing couple under a chestnut tree. Both figures are painted life-size and occupy almost the entire painting. The woman who holds a fan in her right-hand is shown with a smiling face looking towards the viewer. The scene is bathed in a bright and cheerful light. The background includes a table on the right, and a hat on the ground and a pair of faces below the level of the dance floor can be seen.

The man depicted was a friend of Renoir’s, and the woman is Aline Charigot, who later became the wife of the Renoir. This painting was commissioned in 1882 by a merchant who wanted artworks on the theme of the dancing. A complementary picture on the same subject, named Dance in the City, was also painted by Renoir.

Aline Victorine Charigot

In 1890, about seven years after this painting, Renoir married Aline Victorine Charigot, a dressmaker twenty years his junior, who, along with a number of the artist’s friends, had already served as a model in “Country Dance” and for “Luncheon of the Boating Party”. She is the woman on the left playing with the dog in 1881, and with whom he had already had a child in 1885. After his marriage, Renoir painted many scenes of his wife and family including their children and their nurse, Aline’s cousin.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As one who celebrated feminine beauty and sensuality, Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colour, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. In characteristic Impressionist style, Renoir suggested the details of a scene through freely brushed touches of colour, so that his figures softly fuse with their surroundings.

At the age of 51, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis which in his last twenty years of his life severely limited his mobility. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique. Renoir remained positive and passionate about his art and did not let his condition affect his painting or diminish the beauty that he saw around him. In the advanced stages of his arthritis, he required an assistant to place his paintbrush in his hand. His hands were also wrapped with bandages to prevent skin irritation. Renoir applied a variety of effective coping strategies and used his ingenuity to come up with different ways to continue painting even as his arthritis weakened him.

Country Dance

  • Title:              Country Dance
  • Français:        Danse à la campagne
  • Artist:            Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Date:             1883
  • Medium:        Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:  Height: 1,800 mm (1.96 yd); Width: 900 mm (2.95 ft)
  • Museum:      Musée d’Orsay

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Reflections

  • Do we dance less then we use to?
  • Have we become more challenged in our ability to dance?
  • Did Renoir know that he was going to marry this girl looking at him?

Explore the Musée d’Orsay

Quotes about Dancing

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“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
– Voltaire

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“The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.”
– James Brown

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

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“Dancing is silent poetry.”
– Simonides

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“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
– Rumi

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“He who cannot dance blames the floor.”
– Hindu Proverb

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“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

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“Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.”
– Samuel Beckett

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“Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”
– George Bernard Shaw

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“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.”
– Jane Austen

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“I’m going to dance in all the galaxies.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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“I’m going to dance in all the galaxies.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
– Pierre-Auguste Renoir

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Photo Credit 1) Musée d’Orsay [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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