Exhibitions: Galerie G. Petit, (Paris april-may 1912), n. 9;
Exposition coloniale internationale et des pays d’Outremer, (Paris 1931), n. 46
Literature: Albert Besnard (1849-1934). Modernités Belle Epoque, W. Saadé, S. Cantarutti, C. Beauvalot, C. Gouzi, M. Grivel, Palais-Lumière Evian 2 June 2016-2 October 2016;
Petit Palais, musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris 25 October 2016-29 January 2017, Somogy éditions d’ art, Paris 2016, p. 38.
This painting depicts the bayadère, a dance native to India as we can see from the exotic costume worn both by the dancer herself and by the spectators in the background. The dance is also being observed by the painter and his wife, the sculptress Charlotte Dubray, who are clothed in the Western fashions of their day. The mood and the environment are imbued with the seductive charm exuded by the exotic feelings that the Indian dance clearly aroused in the artist.
The painting was doubtless prompted by the memories and the atmosphere of Besnard's nine-month tour of India with his wife and children in 1910, when he visited such destinations as Ceylon, southern India, Pondichéry, the Rajasthan and Bombay, returning to Europe so laden with drawings, sketches, notes and rough drafts that he was subsequently persuaded to write a book about the experience entitled L'homme en rose: l'Inde couleur de sang.
In one of the tales of his journey, published in episodes in Le Figaro between December 1911 and September 1912, he describes the thoroughly exotic attraction of the performance put on by the young bayadère with her "black face", aged only sixteen:
For a European unfamiliar with the Far East, a bayàdere is an almost mythical, endlessly fascinating creature who exudes a bewitchingly dangerous charm, spreading her inebriating perfume in a frenzied whirlwind[...]
The Indian dance and its dancers made such an impression on the artist that the theme continued to haunt him well after his return, prompting him to ruminate on and to return to it on more than one occasion.
 P.A. Besnard, L’Homme en rose, L’Inde couleur de sang, Eugène Fasquelle, Paris 1925, pp. 169-171.