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Australian art

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Bell dance

(circa 1920)


Rupert Bunny

Australia, France

29 Sep 1864 - 25 May 1947


'Bell dance' is gloriously coloured, with a rhythmic composition depicting a group of handbell ringers cavalcading across the pictorial surface, with one stooping with the weight of a large bell. Rupert Bunny presents these figures in a flat, decorative style, reminiscent of a Greek frieze or painted vase.

The painting visually encapsulates the vibrancy of modern dance and the exotic splendour of France’s belle époque, as well as the brilliant and unconventional colour combinations used in the costumes and sets of the Ballets Russes. Applying pure colour, Bunny created vibrant patterns using dynamic arabesque lines, interwoven to create vivid tapestry-like surfaces.


Other Titles

Bell Dance

Bell dancers

Danseuses aux cloches

Place where the work was made

Paris France


(circa 1920)

Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


54.0 x 64.8 cm stretcher; 67.9 x 78.0 x 5.0 cm frame; 52.9 x 63.6 cm sight edge

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, black oil "RCWB" in monogram. Not dated.


Purchased 1969


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Rupert Bunny

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 8 publications


Jane Clark, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Rupert Bunny / E. Phillips Fox', pg. 20-31, Sydney, 2002, 7 (colour illus,. detail), 24 (colour illus.), 25, 28, 142, 147.

Deborah Edwards, Rupert Bunny: artist in Paris, 'Danse chromatique', pg. 103-131, Sydney, 2009, 116 (colour illus.), 122, 125, 205 (colour illus.). 46

Deborah Edwards, Look, 'Rupert Bunny: An exotic in the history of Australian art', pg. 28-32, Sydney, Nov 2009, 49 (colour illus.). Members events section

Desmond Macaulay and Bettina Macaulay, Singing in the heart: Music and the art of Rupert Bunny, 'Post-war rhythms', pg.89-97, Queensland, 2007, 93 (colour illus.), 108. no catalogue numbers

Andrea Nottage and Simon Ives, Look, 'A question of colour: the hidden elements of Bunny's palette revealed', pg. 36-37, Sydney, Oct 2009, 36.

David Thomas, Art and Australia [vol. 9, no. 4], 'Rupert Bunny', pg. 328-337, Sydney, Mar 1972, 328 (illus.), 331.

David Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Rupert Bunny', pg. 550-575, Sydney, Oct 1970, 555, 565 (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Acquisitions for 1969', pg. 538, Sydney, Jul 1970, 540 (illus.), 541. plate no. 12