Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Museum: Musée d'Orsay (Paris, France)
Bal du moulin de la Galette (commonly known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette) is an 1876 painting by French artistPierre-Auguste Renoir. It is housed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces. The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris. In the late 19th century, working class Parisians would dress up and spend time there dancing, drinking, and eatinggalettes into the evening. Like other works of Renoir's early maturity, Bal du moulin de la Galette is a typically Impressionist snapshot of real life. It shows a richness of form, a fluidity of brush stroke, and a flickering light. From 1879 to 1894 the painting was in the collection of the French painter Gustave Caillebotte; when he died it became the property of the French Republic as payment for death duties. From 1896 to 1929 the painting hung in the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. From 1929 it hung in the Musée du Louvre until it was transferred to the Musée d'Orsay in 1986. Renoir painted a smaller version of the picture (78 × 114 cm) with the same title. This painting is in a private collection. For many years it was owned by John Hay Whitney. On May 17, 1990, his widow sold the painting for US$78 million atSotheby's in New York City to Ryoei Saito (Saitō Ryōei), the honorary chairman of Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company, Japan. At the time of sale, it was one of the top two most expensive artworks ever sold, together with van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which was also purchased by Saito. Saito caused international outrage when he suggested in 1991 that he intended to cremate both paintings with him when he died. However, when Saito and his companies ran into severe financial difficulties, bankers who held the painting as collateral for loans arranged a confidential sale through Sotheby's to an undisclosed buyer. Although not known for certain, the painting is believed to be in the hands of a Swiss collector. As of January 2013 the Bal du moulin de la Galette is sixth (when adjusted for the consumer price index) on the list of most expensive paintings ever sold.