A painting of this composition, with some differences and dated 1764, is in the Hermitage (fig.1), and other versions are recorded, together with an engraving by Le Prince himself dated 1769.1 Le Prince was in Russia from 1758 to 1763, joining a large number of French artists who were working there and teaching at the academy in St. Petersburg. He received numerous commissions from the Empress Elizabeth, in particular for the Winter Palace, as well as from her successor Paul III. He also appears to have travelled extensively and made many studies of the costumes and traditions of the peoples he saw in other exotic regions of the country. When he returned to Paris, he continued to make paintings and drawings based on those subjects, developing the taste for russeries among contemporary collectors. He received a major commission in 1764 to provide illustrations for the Abbé Jean Chappe d'Autreoche's deluxe publication Voyage en Sibérie. A drawing of The Russian Dance, very similar in size and shape to the present work and related to a painting of 1768, was sold in these Rooms, 1 January 2008, lot 193.
1. I. Nemilova, The Hermitage...French Painting, Eighteenth Century, Florence 1986, p. 106, no. 120, reproduced
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