Painted at the height of Van Dongen's Fauve style, the present work is a firmly modernist, gently humorous take on the tradition of ballet – here, that style of ballet danced in the cabarets and vaudevilles of demi-mondaine early twentieth-century Paris, rather than that practised at the Opéra. The ballerina Mademoiselle Léda (presumably nicknamed after the production in which she is dancing) winks at the audience and raises her hands up to the level of her face, perhaps having kissed them first in gratitude for the applause that she is receiving before extending them out towards her beloved audience. Léda is depicted as a bold diagonal across the picture-plane, and is highlighted by a cloud of brilliant scarlet that hovers behind her. She is a jaunty, confident presence that dominates the composition and epitomises both Van Dongen's pre-eminence at portraying the female form and his recurring interest in motifs drawn from the performing arts.
Anita Hopmans discussed the present work in comparison to Matisse's 1906 oil La Liseuse, which uses a similar palette: 'Was it possibly in answer to [La Liseuse] that Van Dongen submitted his picture of the ballerina winking at the viewer, Mademoiselle Léda, known under the title La ballerina borgne? It is striking that this canvas is also largely painted in complementary reds and greens – but then the reverse from Matisse's work. Van Dongen's picture shows a girl in green against the background of a red 'cloud'. [...] It can certainly be read as a reply to Matisse' (A. Hopmans, in The Van Dongen Nobody Knows: Early and Fauvist Drawings 1895-1912 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 70).
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