FERNAND ALLARD L'OLIVIER (Belgian, 1883-1933)

The red dancers
signed 'Allard l'Olivier' (lower right)
oil on board
97 x 72.5cm (38 3/16 x 28 9/16 in).
Former collection of Princess Lilian de Rethy, wife of King Leopold III of Belgium
Brussels, Galerie des Artistes Franc;ais (Isy Brachot), Allard l'Olivier au Congo, April 1929, no. 3
The female dancers represented here smeared their bodies with dirt, oil and the ground bark of kula trees to colour them red. This tradition existed specifically in the Kasai and Equateur provinces of what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The artist's interest in the subject of dance is discussed in Lynne Thornton, Les Africanistes: Peintres Voyageurs (Paris, 1990).