Have you ever found yourself studying a painting and trying to interpret it? The problem of course is we approach things with our own bias and perceptions of such things. We may never get to the artist’s hidden meaning or what he wants to portray but actually I prefer that. I like to make up my own stories and histories of the characters involved.
I’ve long had a thing for the Impressionist school of painting, their soft palette and use of light. This particular painting, Dance at Bougival, used to hang in my bedroom. Sadly not the original of course. Who could ever be that lucky?
There are many ways to interpret this picture but I think it’s pretty straightforward. I see a woman not dancing with her lover but someone against her will. Yet she is unable to make a fuss or a scene about it. I don’t think she looks happy at being singled out. She looks as if performing a duty. The man who I think is supposed to be Renoir himself seems to be holding her with an air of possession. Although there are flowers strewn on the floor the people in the background don’t seem to be paying them much attention.
The fact that she’s not meeting his eyes could also suggest shyness. For myself as an introvert who finds social situations trying, it screams of awkwardness.
That’s probably my favourite thing about art. Everyone can have their own interpretation and no one else can tell them they’re wrong. You can see a painting or hear a piece of music a thousand times over and still find something new and fresh about it.