The Dance William-Adolphe Bouguereau Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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William Bouguereau was a famous French artist and academic who painted The Dance in 1856. The original oil on canvas painting measures 367 cm by 180 cm. Today, The Dance, is housed in Paris within the Musée d'Orsay.

William Bouguereau was a traditionalist and realist painter who mainly used Greek mythology as his muse and inspiration for his great works. These classical themes, steeped in tradition, became modern masterpieces of his day, in their classical beauty and modern interpretation of these great myths.

The individuals painted within his artwork are incredibly realistic, with particular attention paid to the human body. He was best known for his artistic portrayal of the female body on canvas, as most of his works feature beautiful women.

The Dance features a canvas full of bright colours that draws the eye to the three women who appear to be floating on a cloud, caught in mid pose as they dance and enjoy each other's company. Two women are stood in the background, one woman has her head raised to the sky, arm outstretched, while the other woman has her arm covering her face. The third woman is sat with her back to the observer, and is playing s tambourine.

All of the women are beautiful and dressed in typical Grecian robes. The three women are brought to life with the bright blue background of the sky. This brightness is in direct contrast to their human appearance, as they should not be floating in the sky, but stood firmly on the ground. Somehow, William Bouguereau manages to fuse the two worlds together on canvas.

William Bouguereau was a popular figure in France among art lovers and fellow painters, although not with the critics. He was also an incredibly successful artist within the United States. In particular the avant garde impressionist movement held him in high regard. It is thought that during his long artistic career, that William Bouguereau produced more than 822 paintings, but the whereabouts of many paintings are still unknown today.