About This Artwork

Nathalija Gontcharova
Russian, 1881–1962

Spanish Dancer, c. 1916

Oil on canvas
79 x 35 in. (200.7 x 88.9 cm)
Signed, l.r.: "N. Gontcharova"

Gift of Mrs. Patrick C. Hill in memory of her mother, Rue Winterbotham Carpenter, 1971.777

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

A leader of the Russian avant-garde, Nathalija Gontcharova was among the first to rediscover folk art and icons, drawing on their characteristic flatness, decorative nature, and simplicity for her own avant-garde style, Rayonism. Her prodigious output included theatrical designs for Sergei Diaghilev, the patron and founder of the Ballets Russes. This work was inspired by the artist’s 1916 visit to Spain, as well as by designs she prepared for several Spanish-themed ballets that Diaghilev planned but never realized. Spanish Dancer combines the monumental presence of the dancer with the delicate, lacy expanses of her costume. The angular planes of her dress, sweeping diagonally upward, are reminiscent of the fractured and dynamic forms of Cubist and Futurist paintings.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, The Arts Club, Loan Exhibition of Modern Paintings and Drawings from Private Collections in Chicago, November 2–25, 1938, no. 53, as Danseuse Espagnole.

Publication History

A. James Speyer and Courtney Graham Donnell, Twentieth-Century European Paintings (Chicago, 1980), p. 44, no. 2A6.

James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture (Chicago, 1996), p. 39 (ill.).

Ownership History

Nathalija Gontcharova, Paris; probably sold by her to Rue Winterbotham Carpenter (died 1931), Chicago, December 3, 1928-1931 [according to letter December 3, 1928 from artist to Alice Rouillier, Arts Club of Chicago, in curatorial file]; by descent to her daughter Mrs. Patrick C. Hill (née Genevieve Carpenter) (died 1976), Chicago, by 1938–1971; given by her to the Art Institute, 1971.

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