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‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’

This Renoir work is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces, depicting romantic bourgeois Paris in the 1870s.

TravelCurious Tip

Look at the painting and find a figure who interests you — then delve into the reading to identify them, or let our guide help you. It’s delightful detective work

Bal du Moulin de la Galette was painted by Pierre-August Renoir in 1876. It is one of the great impressionist masterpieces. It’s an extraordinary depiction of something very ordinary indeed: a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the Montmarte district in Paris. It’s an impressionistic snapshot of daily life, with all the richness of form, fluidity of brush stroke and dappled light that one expects from Renoir.

The painting is one of France’s national treasures and very rarely leaves its home, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. In 1879 Edmond Renoir, the artist’s younger brother, gave the following description of how the painting came to be: “He took up residence there for half a year, became acquainted with the little world of the place and its particular life that no models would have conveyed and, having got into the atmosphere of that popular little restaurant, he depicted with amazing enthusiasm the unrestrained hurly-burly that prevailed there.”

However, the scene does in fact contain a number of Renoir’s friends too. His biographer, Georges Rivière, has identified some of them. At the compositional centre of the painting there is a striking pair: Margot Legrand and a tall, immaculate gentleman in a top-hat — this was the Cuban painter, Don Pedro Vidal de Solares y Cardenas (some name!). Margot was a frequent model for Renoir and a bit mad; the well-bred Don was a bit stiff. The story told by their figures is absolutely typical of Renoir’s style. You will find such stories in every corner of this painting.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
Musee d'Orsay
One of the world's definitive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, installed in the former Orsay train station.
'Starry Night Over the Rhone'
This painting is one of the highlights from the Musée d'Orsay’s Van Gogh collection.
'Card Players'
This peaceful Cézanne painting is one of the Post-Impressionist’s most enduring works.
'Houses of Parliament'
A superlative example of the Impressionist style developed by Claude Monet, depicting the world in a way that no camera ever could.
Les Berges River Path
A pedestrianised recreation pathway along the river's edge
Paris Musee D'Orsay
One of the largest art museums in Europe, placed in the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.

Related Tours

Musée d'Orsay: The World's Finest Collection of Impressionist Art
The Louvre may be the most visited museum in Paris, however the Orsay is probably the most enjoyable. Housed in the Gare d’Orsay, and constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair, the Orsay Museum is one of Paris’ most beloved museums, devoted to a huge breadth of art from between 1848 and 1914. The museum also showcases France’s most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art - indeed the golden age of art in Paris.

  • Escape the bustle and visit one of Paris' most enjoyable and roomy museums.
  • Explore the most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art in France.
  • Examine key works by Monet and Gaugin with your own expert guide.
During the tour your expert city guide will help you navigate this huge collection to find the absolute best, world-famous as well as lesser known pieces. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, discovering how these artists influenced the next generation. You will explore the most iconic artworks in the world, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’, Renoir’s ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’, and Cézanne’s 'Card players', and learn from your knowledgeable guide, about the stories behind these artworks and their creators along the way. 


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