National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of La Camargo Dancing Nicolas Lancret (artist)
French, 1690 - 1743
La Camargo Dancing, c. 1730
oil on canvas
overall: 76.2 x 106.7 cm (30 x 42 in.) framed: 107.3 x 135.9 x 9.2 cm (42 1/4 x 53 1/2 x 3 5/8 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.89
On View
From the Tour: 18th-Century France — The Rococo and Watteau
Object 5 of 9

Of the artists who followed Watteau's lead, Lancret was the most talented and inventive. More a rival than an imitator, he was admitted to the Academy as a painter of fêtes galantesbut also produced historical and religious paintings—and portraits, especially of actors and dancers.

In this inspired hybrid Lancret set such a portrait within the elegant garden of a fête galante. As if spotlit, the famous dancer La Camargo shares a pas de deux with her partner Laval. They are framed by lush foliage, which seems to echo their movements. Marie-Cuppi de Camargo (1710–1770) was widely praised for her sensitive ear for music, her airiness, and her strength. Voltaire likened her leaps to those of nymphs. Fashions and hairstyles were named after her, and her real contributions to dance were substantial. She was the first to shorten her skirts so that complicated steps could be fully appreciated, and some think she invented toe shoes.

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