Le Menuet, unmounted fan leaf


The minuet was without doubt the most important couple dance of the 18th century. Everyone who wished to participate in polite society had to learn it, and dancing manuals of the time gave much space to explaining how it should be performed. The terror it inspired in would-be dancers made it a ready object of satire. Bath balls, of course, opened with a series of minuets, a practice which continued throughout the 1700s. In 1787 the caricature A Long Minuet as Danced at Bath by Henry Bunbury (1750–1811) was published, showing couples at various stages of the dance, and the sequence was used as part of the decoration of a fan leaf a few years later. The colouring in the fan brings out the finery of the dancers’ attire and exaggerates their various faux-pas. The importance of the minuet, and the terror it inspired in would-be dancers, made it a ready object of satire.

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Le Menuet
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