This Belle Époque statuette of a danseuse (female ballet dancer) is carved from solid wood. The Belle Époque was a period in French history that was synonymous with prosperity, optimism, peace, and economic growth. The movement extended across western Russia, Europe, and America, but it mainly flourished in Paris. The Belle Époque arguably began in 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, but it gained momentum in the 1880s and lasted until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. This time period saw huge cultural advances, social affluence, artistic freedom, and technological progress. For the first time, members of the middle class grew and thrived as consumers. The outlook of the Belle Époque was two-fold: it embraced social change, artistic freedoms, and new technologies, yet it was also nostalgic of the past. This statuette would likely have been on display in a nightclub or fairground for people to admire. The artist masterfully captures the dancer in action, seen with her swaying skirt and twisting arms. The fine detail in the dancer’s hair, costume, and facial features is eloquent, and although the carving’s wear is consistent with age, this statue is striking, unique, and will be a regal addition to your home.
At this time in France, Italian museum worker and artist Vincenzo Peruggia (1881–1925) stole Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452–1519) famous painting, the Mona Lisa, from the Louvre Museum in Paris on August 21, 1911. Peruggia was able to enter the museum through an employee door wearing the clothing of a museum employee. Once alone in the gallery, he took the painting off the wall, removed its protective case and frame, wrapped it in his smock, and carried it out the same door he entered through. The thief hid the painting in a trunk in his apartment for two years, before taking it to Italy, where he was finally caught after contacting the owner of an art gallery. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre in 1913.