Renoir ‘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.
Van Gogh 'Starry Night Over the Rhone'
This painting is one of the highlights from the Musée d'Orsay’s Van Gogh collection.
Cézanne 'Card Players'
This peaceful Cézanne painting is one of the Post-Impressionist’s most enduring works.
Monet '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.
Rodin 'The Gates of Hell'
The plaster model in the Musée d'Orsay dates from 1917 and was inspired by the famous doors that Ghiberti had made for the baptistery in Florence.
Manet 'The Luncheon on the Grass'
Though a seemingly mundane scene, by placing an anonymous unclothed woman in an everyday setting, Manet re-contextualized the age-old subject and redefined what constitutes fine art, with a hint of irony.

Related Tours

The Musée d'Orsay Highlights: Private Half-Day Walking Tour
Escape the bustle and step into the Golden Age of art in the Musée D’Orsay to enjoy one of the world’s greatest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. 

On your private tour of the Orsay Museum, you will: 

  • Explore the highlights of the museum, focusing on the best work of the Impressionists;
  • See Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Degas’ Ballerina, Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, and one of Monet’s Waterlily pieces;
  • Find yourself in front of an other-worldly clock, with stunning vistas over Paris;
  • See the model for the Opera Garnier, designed by Carpeaux;
  • Stand in front of Thomas Couture Les Romains de la Décadence – the museum’s largest painting.
The Louvre may be the most visited museum in Paris, but 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 between 1848 and 1914. 

During the tour, your expert guide will help you navigate this huge collection to land you in front of the world-famous pieces housed in the museum. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh while learning how each generation of artists has influenced the next. 

Explore the most iconic artworks in the world, including 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. 

After your guided tour, feel free to further explore the vast museum and its beautiful work at your own pace. 


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