Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Dancing With Renoir" at the MFA-August 2012

Shall we dance? On a bright cloud of music shall we fly!
Let the dancing begin!

Pierre-Auguste Renoir--1841-1919

The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) welcomed two iconic masterpieces on loan from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, until September 3rd....Renoir's Dance in the City and Dance in the Country to accompany the MFA's beloved Dance at Bougival.

The trio of life-sized paintings, all painted in 1883, have not been shown together at the MFA since 1986.

Quoting MFA Director Malcom Rogers, "This is our equivalent of dancing with the stars...with Renoir the musician!  You can't imagine three paintings that capture more of the romance and beauty of [late] 19th century France than Renoir's three treatments of the dance."  

When you look at these paintings you can almost hear French 19th century music...the accordion playing, the swish of fabrics, the slight clicking of feet on the floor. 

Dance at Bougival  (MFA collection)

Six feet tall and a few feet wide, this painting shows a man and woman, full-length and casually attired, dancing in an outdoor cafe on the outskirts of Paris.  The couple, intertwined and dancing with fervid abandon, convey a palpable sense of pleasure and intimacy.  Our focus is almost entirely on the romantic couple with little background distraction.  All the action is in their interaction, captured in the split second of a dance swirl.  It is not clear who the models might be; possibly the woman is an amalgam of 2 of his models,  Suzanne Valadon, his model and lover, and Charigot, his model, later his lover, still later his wife.  

Dance in the City

Renoir included many of his friends in his paintings.  The models here are his friend Paul Auguste Lhote, and the woman dancing in his arms is the artist's model and lover, the painter Suzanne Valadon.  This is a formal dance in an urban ballroom.  It conveys stately restraint and elegance.

Dance in the Country 

Again we have Renoir's friend Paul August Lhote and Aline Charigot, who was Renoir's model, later his lover and still later his wife.
 This painting is set in the country and it has an earthier atmosphere. 

Boating Couple (MFA collection)

This pastel on paper of a self portrait of Renoir and his wife-to-be, Aline Charigot, lures the viewer into an intimate scene between the couple. 

To view Renoir's biography and his complete works click here


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