le mort du cygne

Le Mort du Cygne: Anna Pavlova (1911). Sir John Lavery (Irish, 1856–1941). Oil paint on canvas. Tate.

Neither the ballerina’s pose nor the setting is taken from the ballet, but Lavery has aimed in the picture to express the poignant death of a beautiful creature. The ballerina sinks to the floor, the light dancing off her creamy white costume and pink satin pumps. The vast expanse of the Swan Lake traces a graceful parabola behind her and, in contrast to the earlier Bacchante, it is a quiet and contemplative scene.