Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Dance in Bougival

by Alexandra Tuschka

This painting by Renoir was created in 1883 in an open-air café in Bougival. The people depicted are two friends of the painter: Suzanne Valadon and Paul Auguste Llhote, who performed several dances for Renoir. Suzanne is shown in a flared, rosé dress - she herself was a trapeze artist and painter. The lady's pretty dress and the man's suit are in keeping with the late summer fashions of the time. Little is visible of the man's face, as the hat covers parts of it. The man was what we call today a "womanizer" - whether both persons really had an amorous relationship is not known today.


The focus of the picture is clearly on the lady's face. The bold red sash of the hat frames the pale face; the man's gaze, though hidden under the hat, is also directed at her. The lady's gaze, on the other hand, is flirtatiously directed downward. The man's demanding gesture seems to give her quiet pleasure. In the background, typical of Renoir, there are busy couples, tables and other people. These, however, have given the protagonists ample space in front.


The popular painting actually hangs in the Museum of fine arts in Boston, but due to its popularity it has mostly been seen in other exhibitions in recent years.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Dance in Bougival

Oil on canvas, 1883, 182 × 98 cm, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston