Dance

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Nicolas Poussin

A Dance to the Music of Time
1640

The ability to communicate meaning through dance has been explored by artists throughout the ages. Poussin's lively drawing, which is a study for a painting in the Wallace Collection, London, represents the idea that the events of life form a rhythm, like a dance. The circle of dancing women is thought to represent the earthly concerns of poverty, labour, riches and pleasure. Dancing to music made by Father Time and accompanied by babies playing with meaningful props (bubbles and an hour-glass implying the passage of time), these linked figures invite us to think about the shortness of human existence.

  • Credits Purchased by Private Treaty, with the aid of the Art Fund (Scottish Fund), the Pilgrim Trust, the Edith M. Ferguson Bequest and contributions from two private donors, 1984
  • Medium Pen, brown ink and wash on paper; traces of squaring on black chalk
  • Size 14.80 x 19.90 cm (framed: 44.00 x 59.00 cm)

Baroque Dance

Dance played a key role during the reign of Louis XIV in France (1643-1715). The formal developments made at his court eventually gave birth to the discipline of classical ballet.