Renoir, "Danseuse (Dancer)"

1874
Oil on canvas
56 1/8 x 37 1/8 in. (142.5 x 94.5 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington


"Renoir exhibited a Danseuse, a young blond girl who lifts her tulle skirts with a graceful gesture ..."
Leon de Lora [Felix Pothey] Le Gaulois, 18 April 1874

"His Jeune danseuse is a charming portrait. With her dark red hair, her too pale cheek, and too red lips she reminds us of the "thirteen-year-old woman" whose story was so cruelly told by Theodore de Banville in the Parisiennes de Paris. Already, as a result of work undertaken when too young, her legs have grown heavy, and her feet, in their pink satin slippers, are not dainty enough. But the long and spindly arms are surely those of a child, and below her boyish chest a blue sash, a ribbon from first communion, comes down and flutters over the winged skirt of the ballerina. Still a little girl ? Doubtless. Already a woman ? Perhaps. A young girl ? Never."
Jean Prouvaire [Pierre Toloza], Le Rappel, 20 April 1874

"Renoir's Danseuses [sic] and the Parisienne are both sketches and nothing more. The figure should not be systematically treated in this loose way. Despite this reservation, the overall tone is attractive; the heads recall both English painting and Goya, and the fabrics are only thinly painted and have no depth or projection. It is an attractive approximation, but, at the most, it is a mere promise. Nature finds deeper expression than in such imperceptible appearances. There is something worse than taking reality for a shadow, and that is taking the shadow for reality. Despite these criticisms, one would search our official school in vain for a head whose distinction, quality, and reality of tone matched those of the Danseuse."
Armand Silvestre, L'Opinion Nationale, 22 April 1874

"Upon entering the first room, Joseph Vincent received an initial shock in front of the Dancer by Renoir.

'What a pity,' he said to me, 'that the painter, who has a certain understanding of color, doesn't draw better: his dancer's legs are as cottony as the gauze of her skirts.'

'I find you hard on him,' l replied. 'On the contrary, the drawing is very tight.' Bertin's pupil, believing that I was being ironical, contented himself with shrugging his shoulders, not taking the trouble to answer."
Louis Leroy, Le Charivari, 25 April 1874

"Considered from a distance, for example, from the back of the third room on the ground floor, the Danseuse is an original conception, a kind of fairy molded in earthly forms. Nothing is more alive than her bright and tender, rosy skin. On this the heap of gauze that makes up her dress somehow delightfully blends with her luminous and tender tones. This is Realism of the great school, the one that does not feel forced to trivialize nature to interpret it. You can apply to Renoir these three lines of a sonnet written to characterize a witty canvas:

He knows how, oh Parisienne, to give iridescence to your toilette
One sees flowers and cupids spring from his palette
Eve in vine leaves, and Venus without a corset.
Marc de Montifaud [MarieAmelie Chartroule de Montifaud], L'Artiste, 1 May 1874

"The Danseuse is true to life and has a fine and nervous elegance in its truth. However, everything that is charming-the haziness of the gauze skirts, the notes of color on the head, breast, and legs-is unfortunately lost in a vague, entirely conventional background."
Ernest Chesneau, Paris-Journal, 7 May 1874