About this artwork

This drawing dates from a trip that Melville made to Paris in 1889 to see the Exposition Universelle, a huge world fair held on the anniversary of the French Revolution. In October 1889, the Moulin Rouge first opened to the public and it was probably then that Melville made this sketch of the dancers. The drawing belongs to a set of several small watercolour sketches that he made of the can-can dancers. They were a popular subject with French artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec. The sketches have a vivid sense of immediacy. Melville captures the whirling petticoats and high-kicking legs of the dancers on stage bathed in brightly coloured lights.

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Arthur Melville

Arthur Melville

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