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At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance
At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance, 1890
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French
Oil on canvas
45 1/2 x 59 inches (115.6 x 149.9 cm)
The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986
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Let's Look

  • Where is this scene taking place? How can you tell?
  • Which people are standing still? Which ones are moving?
  • Find some diagonal lines, some vertical lines, and one horizontal line.
  • Where are the dark areas? Where are the light areas?

Let's Look Again

  • There are some unusual characters in this crowd. Find the one whose face looks like a skull and another who has his nose in the air.
  • Look closely at the three largest figures of women. What do their body language and clothing tell us about their personalities? Walk in groups of three, each student assuming the role of one of the women. Use your imagination and clues found in the painting to invent a name and personality for your character. Take turns telling each other who you are.
  • How many profiles of faces can you find in this painting? Try drawing the profile of one of your friends. Make sure the ear lines up with the eyes, as in Lautrec's profile of the woman in the pink dress.

Writing Activities

  • Lautrec loved the Moulin Rouge. Write a paragraph describing one of your favorite places.
  • Imagine that you are in this painting—in a crowded, bustling dance hall near Paris a hundred years ago. Explore the background, middle ground, and foreground. Write a paragraph describing what you see, hear, smell, and feel.
  • Find the bald bartender in the back of the dance hall. Bartenders hear all sorts of stories told by their customers. Pick one of the people in the painting and write their story, as told to the bartender.

Hands-on Activity

  • When he first started painting, Lautrec experimented with various ways of signing his name on his work. Perhaps inspired by the seals stamped on Japanese prints, he decided to use a logo consisting of a circle with a combination of his three initials—H for Henri, T for Toulouse, and L for Lautrec—inside. Experiment with making your own logo this way. Try arranging your initials in squares, rectangles, and triangles, as well as circles.

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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