18th century, Oil on canvas, signed at the bottom left
With frame: L 187 x H 129 x 10.5 cm
Without frame: L 155,5 x H 100
The painting, of remarkable dimensions and of great decorative effect, represents three girls intent on dancing while a man marks the time clapping his hands. Around the scene, other women observe participants; one holds a zither in her hand, while another one waves a fan. The scene takes place in an open-air space, of classical taste, adorned with a colonnade and marble statues. The scene would seem to be the moment dedicated to music and dance during a symposium in ancient Greece.
Near the Greeks and Romans, the symposium was that convivial practice, which followed the banquet, during which the diners drank, sang songs and dedicated themselves to entertainment of various kinds, including dance.
The extremely pleasant subject of neoclassical taste is rare in the corpus of the works of the British painter and engraver John Rafael Smith, who signs the’work in the lower left. The artist was much appreciated as an engraver and engraved many works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, considered masterpieces of the mezzatinta. His works are delicate, excellent in design and finely expressive in color. Smith was the master of William Turner and Charles Howard Hodges.