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Arthur Melville

Dancers at the Moulin Rouge

In Paris during the opening year of this famous dance hall, Arthur Melville made some extraordinary watercolours of the Moulin Rouge in a small sketchbook. Although based in London at the time, this Scottish artist had previously studied at the Académie Julian in Paris, where he was introduced to the work of the Impressionists.

During his time in France, Melville became familiar with new methods of watercolour and began to experiment with the medium. He achieved the transition from yellow to blue pigment by working directly onto wet paper and allowing areas of colour to bleed together. Unusual for the time in its abstraction, this piece might be understood as a comment on coloured electric lighting, and is perhaps the artist's response to the replacement of gas with electrically-lit interiors.

  • Credits Purchased 1995
  • Medium Watercolour on paper
  • Size 9.40 x 15.50 cm

Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge or Red Windmill is a night-club located in the Pigalle area of Paris, a notorious red-light district. Opened in 1889, it immediately became identified with the ‘Can-can’, a dance which is still performed there.