Dance

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Edward Burra

Izzy Orts
1937

Dancing couples play a prominent role in this vibrant image of a crowded venue - the Izzy Orts bar in Boston, USA. Yet the feeling of pleasure and enjoyment conveyed by the dancers jars with the blank-eyed stare of the sailor in the foreground. Isolated and detached, this figure adds an unsettling note to the lively scene, inviting comparison with the serious theme explored in Poussin's much earlier drawing.

The English painter Edward Burra frequented various dockside bars and dance halls while visiting Boston in 1937, attracted by their shady atmosphere and dubious clientele. His active interest in such places, and the insights they gave him into the human condition, are both evident in this enigmatic watercolour.

  • Credits Purchased 1980
  • Medium Watercolour and pencil on paper
  • Size 73.60 x 104.50 cm
© Estate Of The Artist c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd, London
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  • © Estate Of The Artist c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd, London

Dance Halls

Dance halls were an important focus of urban social life for much of the twentieth century. Featuring live musicians, they provided a public space where young people of both sexes could legitimately meet and have fun.