P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

29 April 2012

Shall We Dance? Dancing with Renoir at The MFA

Dance in the City,1883 Pierre Auguste Renoir

In Boston it is time to Dance!  In May The  Museum of Fine Arts will welcome two very special paintings on loan from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris—Renoir's Dance in the City and Dance in the Country. These  full-length scenes  will be shown along side MFA's own treasure of Renoir's, Dance at Bougival. This is the first time in a generation that all three have been on view together at the MFA.  The three paintings were all done by Renoir in the same year,1883,  and portray couples in urban, suburban  and rural settings. 

The two painting from the Musee d'Orsay  were created as a pair- the formats are complimentary and the almost full size figures show two very different couples and two very different styles of dancing. Dance in the City is of course within a formal setting, with cool interior ballroom tones featuring an elegantly dressed and  restrained white gloved couple while Dance in the Country incorporates livelier warmer colors showing its couple in open air dancing.

Dance in the Country,1883
 Dance in the Country has more of a "romp" to it with a hat tossed to the floor and an abandoned dinner table in the background.  The woman dancing, Aline Charigot, who would later become Renoir's wife, is seen with a blushed and cheerful continence. This is a couple enjoying the moment and they are obviously very comfortable with one another. The couple in Dance in the City, while dancing close, are constrained by the formality of their ballroom surroundings, you know their lives are imposed upon by the formal expectations of their society...you want to know more about them and about their evening.  Yet these two paintings are indeed linked and one could very well imagine these two couples dancing on the very same night in their respective locales.

Dance at Bougival,1883  MFA

 Dance at Bougival, has a different mood all its own--A Suburban cafe in  Bougival on the outskirts of Paris is the setting and there is more electricity in this piece between the dance partners. The woman, the same model Suzanne Valadon seen in Dance in the City, averts her gaze as her partner leans in to her-she may not be enjoying this dance as much as her partner wishes.  Their hats are vibrant which pulls your eye to their faces and their mixed expressions-his common and flirtatious, hers almost embarrassed and not quite sure what to make of her partner and his yellow hat.  Visitors to the MFA will be familiar with the great presence of this painting and it is wonderful to have the chance to see Renoir's three dancing couples on canvas all together.  The exhibition will run through September 3, 2012 in the Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery at The MFA.

I know critics are not huge fans of Dance in the City but it holds a special place with me and I look forward to seeing it again in person. Years back I purchased an exhibition poster of this piece in Paris and the woman who sold it to me thought I actually looked like Suzanne Valadon in the painting and predicted I would find a tall dark elegantly dressed partner to share the dance floor with...worth revisiting don't ya think??? :)

images from The MFA and the Musee d'Orsay