Dancers at the Moulin Rouge

Reference URL

See also

Dancers at the Moulin Rouge 1889
Melville made this sketch during his 1889 trip to Paris to see the Exposition Universelle. He was accompanied by fellow artists James Guthrie, Edward Arthur Walton and John Singer Sargent. The artists frequented the newly opened Moulin Rouge dance hall, and Melville made a number of studies of the dancers in his sketchbook. He has quickly captured the scene using a few rapid brushstrokes, producing an almost abstract composition. Areas of wet, running washes suggest the colours of the dancer’s bright tulle petticoats illuminated by footlights.

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


A transparent layer of diluted ink or watercolour.

Abstract art, Composition, Wash


  • Acc. No. D 5403
  • Medium Watercolour on paper
  • Size 9.40 x 15.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1995