Look Closer

The Story of Paula Rego's 'The Dance'

Discover the story behind the painting

A bit of background

Paula Rego was a Portuguese-British artist known for her large, figurative paintings. Rego's style evolved considerably, and she favoured pastels for much of her later career. Her work has a dream-like quality and takes inspiration from Portuguese folk tales.

Paula painted The Dance in 1988. At the time it was made, it was the largest painting she had created. It features eight figures, dancing on a moon-lit beach.

In the film, Paintings Conservator Camille Polkownik describes the details of studying the work close-up. The artist's son, Nick Willing also shares his experience of posing for the picture, stepping in for his father who passed away before the painting was completed.

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