Sir William Quiller Orchardson

Her First Dance

1884

Artist
Sir William Quiller Orchardson 1832–1910
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1016 x 1384 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
Reference
N01519

Not on display

Display caption

The popularity of the Scottish artist Orchardson grew steadily until by the 1880s, he was regarded as one of the greatest modern painters. He specialised in depicting failures of communication between people on social occasions. Here, this failure is between an experienced young man and a novice who are asked to open the dancing at a ball. The setting recreates a scene of about 1820, so Orchardson imagined actors of about the generation of his parents, a time which the people who first saw this painting could just remember. The wide format and empty space of his pictures emphasises the distances between people. He was much praised for his delicate colouring, often near monochrome.

Gallery label, September 2004

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