The Moulin de la Galette

The Moulin de la Galette

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  • The Bal du Moulin de la Galette.

    RENOIR Pierre Auguste (1841 - 1919)

  • The Moulin de la Galette or the Matchiche.

    VAN DONGEN Cornelis, known as Kees (1877 - 1968)

To close

Title: The Bal du Moulin de la Galette.

Author : RENOIR Pierre Auguste (1841 - 1919)

Creation date : 1876

Date shown: 1876

Dimensions: Height 131 - Width 175

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzisite web

Picture reference: 96DE14453 / RE 2739

The Bal du Moulin de la Galette.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

The Moulin de la Galette or the Matchiche.

© ADAGP, Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: October 2009


The Moulin de la Galette


Historical context

The Moulin de la Galette which gives its title to these two paintings was located on the Butte Montmartre (annexed to Paris in 1860), next to the mill which still exists today and to which it owes its name. A sort of large hangar, the Moulin de la Galette was one of the many taverns, which took off as the entertainment industry and the leisure age developed, and where you could dance on Sundays, from from 3 p.m. until nightfall, eating pancakes. The joyful atmosphere of freedom and pleasure then attracted bohemians and artists who found non-professional models there, the common people who liked to be entertained there, but also bourgeois who came to slaughter.

Image Analysis

The two canvases by Renoir and Van Dongen were painted thirty years apart, and the mood is very different from each other. Not that this has fundamentally changed, but because it is seen through two different sensibilities.
Renoir's work is the largest and most ambitious of his Impressionist period. By its theme, it is part of the suite of guinguettes on the banks of the Seine painted by the artist around 1869 and, like these, bears witness to the pictorial research dictated by the Impressionist technique.
Despite the large number of characters, Renoir's composition is solidly built around a large diagonal that separates the background of the foreground, the space of the dance from that of the young drinkers (friends of the artist) seated at the tables. to the right.
In addition, the canvas gives off a sensitive impression of freshness and joy, obtained by the play of light colors and by the smiles that animate the faces. Finally, the unity of the whole is due to the mobility of light, distributed in pink, yellow and blue spots on the dresses, the boaters or the ground. The resulting impression of "flickering" of light reproduces the play of light observed in the open air.
At Van Dongen, you can only guess the crowd. The artist prefers to focus on two couples in the foreground, which echo those of Renoir. But their attitudes and gestures are more eloquent, and the framing itself is more telling. The impression of grace and ardent naivety that permeates Renoir's work here gives way to more assertive flirtations. Weren't these popular balls also an opportunity to meet prostitutes?
In one as in the other canvas, the colors are laid down in free, visible, sensual touches; however, they are wider and thicker with Van Dongen, but also more lively, more exalted (the pinks turning red, and the blues turning black), and they correspond perfectly to the fawn aesthetic, of which he was a great representative. . Should we recall all that Fauvism owes to research, undertaken in the XIXe century (Chevreul, Delacroix, Monet, Renoir, Seurat, Signac…) on color?


Renoir's canvas deliberately takes a positive point of view. Everything contributes to express the joy and gaiety which have earned the artist the title of "painter of happiness". Contrary to Van Dongen’s painting, it’s a good-natured atmosphere that prevails here. At the latter, the atmosphere is more rascal, but also more sensual. It gives a glimpse of other aspects of these popular balls (prostitution, which implies disease, poverty ...), aspects that Toulouse-Lautrec or Picasso also had to look into.
Whatever the approach, these paintings sing of a bygone era of a Montmartre whose low rents attract artists and bohemians (Delacroix, Renoir, Berlioz, Nerval, Gautier ...), but also the lorettes making the Butte a tumultuous neighborhood. Many cabarets are opening their doors there: La Cigale et la Fourmi, Le Chat noir, Le Lapin agile… These names remain synonymous with the heyday of the Butte, before it was eclipsed by Montparnasse.

  • cabarets
  • dance
  • taverns
  • impressionism
  • Hobbies
  • Paris
  • bohemian (life of)
  • fauvism
  • Artistic current
  • Gautier (Théophile)
  • Nerval (Gérard de)
  • Picasso (Pablo)
  • Delacroix (Eugene)
  • Monet (Claude)
  • Seurat (Georges)
  • Signac (Paul)
  • Toulouse-Lautrec (Henri de)


Van Dongen, the painter, 1877-1968 catalog of the exhibition of the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris-Musée, 1990.Van Dongen and fauvism Lausanne-Paris, Library of the Arts, 1971.Kees Van Dongen Rotterdam, Art Unlimited Books-Museums Boymans-Van Beuningen.Jean-Emile BAYARD Montmartre, yesterday and today, Paris, Jouve et Cie Editeurs, 1925. Jean-Paul CARACALLA, Montmartre, people and legends, Paris, Bordas 1995.

To cite this article

Nadine FATTOUH-MALVAUD, "Le Moulin de la Galette"

Video: Montmartre - Le Moulin de la


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