Dance and Brushes

Dance and Brushes

Geography of ballet painting expanded following the development of ballet art in the world. Today, we are going to introduce you to foreign artists who painted ballet.


Alfred Edward Chalon (1780-1860)

Alfred Edward Chalon worked in the technique of lithography, which in his time was widely used to replicate playbills. Chalon is the author of one of the most famous portraits of the ballerina Maria Taglioni, he captured the dancer in the image of Flora from Didelot's ballet Zephyr and Flora. On the equally famous lithograph Pas de Quatre Grisi/Taglioni/Grahn/Cerrito, the artist depicted four ballerinas - Maria Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Lucile Grahn and Fanny Cerrito. Chalon always unrealistically changed the features and proportions of dancers despite human anatomy - it was not his personal whim, but a trend in the fine arts fashion of that time.


Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Ballet was the main theme in the works by Edgar Degas. It is he who is considered to be "the main ballet artist" in world painting. The impressionist often depicted ballerinas during rehearsals, not on stage, thus transferring their hard work and natural emotions to the canvas. He painted in the studio for a long time, and only after 20 years of constant attending the Paris Opera as a spectator, he got the opportunity to freely go paint behind the scenes of the theater.

Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

French artist Jean-Louis Forain was inspired by the high life of France, its morals and traditions, and ballet naturally became an important theme of his work. Although Forain was a caricaturist and illustrator, the genre irony was not reflected in the author's paintings - his ballerinas are the embodiment of beauty and aesthetics.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed ballerinas in unaesthetic poses, capturing the moments when the dancers broke character, as, for example, in the painting "Dancer Adjusting Her Tights." Some researchers believe that the artist compensated for his own complexes associated with height this way.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

The work and life of the Spanish-French artist Pablo Picasso are closely related to ballet art. He designed the sets for six performances of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, including Parade, The Three-Cornered Hat and Pulcinella. And he was even married to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova. Among his famous works are “The Three Dancers”, “Seven Ballerinas” and numerous portraits of his wife.


Everett Shinn (1876-1953)

American artist Everett Shinn painted the urban American life in the early 20th century, and after a trip to Europe began depicting theatrical performances, including ballet. The artist didn’t recognize conservatism, preferred gloomy colors, but at the same time used them to convey a variety of moods. Shinn didn’t seek to perpetuate the art of dance - he focused on the atmosphere of the event, so his paintings often show not only the artists but also the audience.

Robert Heindel (1938-2005)

A modern-day Degas, Robert Heindel turned to the ballet topic in the 1980s. The artist collaborated with different ballet companies, such as the San Francisco Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Great Britain. Heindel often painted ballet classes and ballerinas at the barre, praising not only the beauty of the movements, but also the personality of dancers, their iron will. You can see his paintings in the National Portrait Gallery of London, in the major state museums and in private collections.


Laura Knight (1877-1970)

English post-impressionist artist Laura Knight was passionate about the world of theater and personally knew the members of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company. Laura had backstage access where she sketched quickly and skillfully. Her ballerinas are most often depicted in dressing rooms or before going on stage. Knight was a talented portrait painter and gave the world portraits of Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, Lydia Lopokova (Lopukhova), Olga Spesivtseva, Leonid Massin.


Christopher Zhang (1954)

A fan of Russian painting, Christopher Zhang sensually paints dancers in oil, linking together the bodily aesthetics and skills of an artist. “From the perspective of fine art, ballet shows ideally the beauty of female body, shapes representing classical aesthetic standards. Therefore, it has forever become a topic that attracts me,” - he explains his passion.

Guan Zeju (1941)

One of the cult artists of our time, the master of figurative painting Guan Zeju, received world recognition after the presentation of a series of paintings on the ballet topic, and the final chord was the publication of the book Selected Ballet Paintings. In his works, he skillfully plays with light and shadow, realistically depicting ballerinas, mostly Chinese women.

Liu Yi (1958)

Master of watercolor technique Liu Yi studied painting and ballet since childhood. Painting became his vocation, and dance - the main topic of art. In his works, the world of ballet is always sublime and flawless. When the artist paints from life, he gives the dancers more sophisticated features and the colors come out more tender than in reality.