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Dance School
  • Artist René-Xavier Prinet (French, 1861 - 1946)
  • TitleDance School
  • Dating 1890
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions106 x 152 cm
  • AcquisitionBequest of Pontus and Göthilda Fürstenberg, 1902
  • Art MovementImpressionism
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberF 128
  • Display StatusOn display in The Fürstenberg Gallery IV (Room 19)
Signatures etc.
A thin dancing master marks time with his bow to the girls dancing around him in their white dresses and black stockings and shoes. The four girls practice their dance steps on the parquet while a fifth girl sits watching. They are serious and concentrated; only one of them has a hint of smile. The interior is upper class, with heavy red curtains, oil paintings in gilt frames, and silk-covered chairs.
The blind is pulled down. A warm light is filtered through the window to the left while the light from the right is colder. Much of the scene is in shadow. The artist has cleverly shown how the light with its different temperatures falls on the room and the models. The impressionistic, light, diffuse brushwork conjures up the dancers’ movements. The bald dancing master, with his bent back and black clothing, presents a contrast in both form and content to the young, innocent girls, who are there to be disciplined and prepared for life. The painting is not only an interior of a middle-class setting, but also a portrayal of a bourgeois lifestyle and self-image in 1890s’ Paris. Moreover, it was a world to which the artist himself belonged, as he came from a successful family of lawyers and diplomats.
Both the subject and the Impressionist manner evoke Edgar Degas’s many pictures of dancers, dancing lessons, and ballet performances, usually done in pastels. Degas’s images, both in colour and composition, are bolder than Prinet’s. Prinet has nevertheless captured his dancing lesson with a convincing realism, while sustaining a light and rhythmic touch.

Kristoffer Arvidsson from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014