Bal du moulin de la Galette

Bal du moulin de la Galette
Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Year 1876
Medium Oil on canvas
Location Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Dimensions 52 in × 69 in
131 cm × 175 cm
Famous Paintings by Renoir
Le déjeuner des Canotiers
Bal du moulin de la Galette
La Grenouillère
The Swing (La Balançoire)
Two Sisters (On the Terrace)
Two Young Girls at the Piano
A Girl with a Watering Can
Dance in the Country
By the Seashore

Pierre-August Renoir (1841-1919) was a French painter who was one of the pioneers of the Impressionist style of painting. The painting, Bal du moulin de la Galette, was painted by Renoir in 1876. It is one of his most celebrated masterpieces and as of today is the fifth most expensive painting ever sold. From 1896 to 1829 the painting was in the Musee du Luxembourg in Paris. From there it went to the Musee du Louvre and in 1986 it was transferred to its present home in Musee d’Orsay.

Description & Style

The painting Bal du Moulin de la Galette was painted by Renoir in the Impressionist style. The Impressionist style had small, thin yet visible brush strokes and emphasized on accurate depiction of the light at the scene with its changing qualities. The style used common subject matter and at times showed unusual visual angles.

The Bal du moulin de la Galette showed a typical scene of late 1800’s working class people, who on a Sunday afternoon, would dress up and while passing time dancing, drinking, and eating galettes. It is oil on canvas painting measuring 131 x 175 cm. Renoir also painted a smaller version with the same title and this measured 78 x 114 cm. The scene depicted was painted at the Moulin de la Galette, not far from where Renoir lived.

The entire painting is a sea of happy faces, except for a man sitting on the right who seems to be in a pensive mood. Renoir has done a brilliant job on the effect of light on the scene. The light seems to flicker with life, yet it has dappled patches of shade and this adds to the lifelike quality of the painting. The painting portrays bright yet realistic color shades painted using fluid brush strokes. Like other Impressionist paintings, Bal du Moulin de la Galette has a stunning effect on the viewer. A viewer is immediately transported into a carefree world, free from the worries of daily life, full of joie de vivre. To get the full effect of this Impressionist style painting, you have to stand at the proper viewing distance and have the correct lighting.

Two Versions

It was by a stroke of fortune that this masterpiece can be viewed by the general public and not by a private owner alone. From 1879 to 1894 the Bal du moulin de la Galette was the property of French painter Gustave Caillebotte. When he died, it became a property of the state in lieu of death duties.

The smaller version is in the hands of a private collector. For many years it belonged to John Hay Whitney and after his death his widow sold the painting at $78 million to Ryoei Saito. When Saito announced, that on his death the Bal du moulin de la Galette and Portrait of Dr. Gachet, van Gogh painting he owned, would be cremated along with him, it caused international outrage. Fortunately, Saito’s company had severe financial difficulties. The bank which held it as collateral sold it to a private collector.

Renoir left behind a rich legacy of masterpieces. His style did change over the years when he felt he was not going in the right direction. Whichever style he painted in, his genius was reflected in every brushstroke.

2 Responses to “Bal du moulin de la Galette”

  1. Sidney Lin says:

    Good painting. Love it!

  2. Pyriew says:

    It is so beautiful. Thank you, Renoir.

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