Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Masked Ball 1804

Bal de Société, British Museum

When I first saw this print, I could not figure out what was going on. The women's faces looked creepy, and the whole image seemed odd. I noticed there was a harlequin, so I wondered if it was a masquerade. Then I found a larger version on the Rijksmuseum site where I could zoom in on details.

Bal de Société, Rijksmuseum

Yes, it is a masquerade. Most of the women are wearing masks and fashionable 1804 dresses. The two ladies in front have impressive trains. There is one woman on the left wearing a domino cloak and carrying a black mask. Some men are wearing fashionable clothes, but others are dressed as a Turk, a Harlequin and a courtier with a ruff. One man on the left is wearing a grotesque mask.

Through the arches we can see dancers in a ballroom and musicians in a balcony. The dancers have their left arms raised in graceful positions. Perhaps they are doing  figure with an allemande.

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