La Conversation galante: Anthony L'Abbé’s Dances as Conversation
The conversation galante was one of the social skills required for members of the aristocracy in France. A substantial amount of literature on this subject was published in the seventeenth century, and Antoine Watteau also dealt with this subject in his fête galante paintings. This paper will explore the conversational quality in the dances Anthony L'Abbé created for royal birthday balls, by taking Watteau’s work as a model of the visual image of this notion. The appointment of L'Abbé as dancing-master to the family of the English monarch epitomised the English admiration of the ‘galant’ style of dance, itself the quintessence of ‘French’ taste.