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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Dance at Bougival” by Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Suzanne Valadon - Dance at Bougival

“Dance at Bougival” by Auguste Renoir

“Dance at Bougival” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, made in 1883, depicts two of Renoir’s friends dancing at one of the open-air cafés of suburban Bougival, on the Seine outside Paris.  Renoir used intense color and lush brushwork to heighten the sense of pleasure conveyed by the whirling couple who dominate the painting.

The woman’s face, framed by her red bonnet and is the focus of attention. The woman’s body is arched to the dance as she turns her head and looks away, delighted with the pleasure she inspires in her dance partner and herself. Her dress swirls to the rhythms of the dance.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919), commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As one who celebrated beauty and especially feminine sensuality, Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated color, 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 color, 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.

Dance at Bougival

  • Title:                         Dance at Bougival
  • Artist:                       Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Year:                         1883
  • Type:                        Oil paint on canvas
  • Dimensions:            181.9 by 98.1 centimetres (71.6 in × 38.6 in)
  • Museum:                 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A Tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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“Why should beauty be suspect?”
– Auguste Renoir

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Photo Credit: 1) Pierre-Auguste Renoir [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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