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Advertising Art, Illustration, Ballet, Fancy Free Ball, Vintage Watercolor, 1954


Fancy Free Ball
American: 1954
Watercolor and gouache on paper
Signed indistinctly lower right
9 x 5.5 inches, sight size mat window
9.25 x 6 inches, sheet overall
15.5 x 11.5 inches, frame

Original illustration artwork made for an invitation to the Fancy Free Ball, a fundraising event for the Ballet Theatre Foundation that was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York on October 6, 1954. The painting depicts a scene from Jerome Robbins’ famous ballet Fancy Free, in which three sailors on shore leave compete for the attention of two young women. The illustration is executed in a loose painterly style in black and white on faded blue paper, capturing the exuberant quality of the dance. It features a leaping sailor in the foreground with three others behind him. Robbins had choreographed the work for the company in 1944 to music by Leonard Bernstein, and it remains one of its signature works today.

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The Ballet Theatre Foundation governs the American Ballet Theatre, one of New York’s leading dance companies. In 1954, The Fancy Free Ball celebrated the company’s 15th anniversary with a black tie event featuring performances by dancers, composers and others who had participated over the years. The artwork is framed and accompanied by an example of the printed invitation for the event.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Painted on blue paper, now faded to steely blue gray. Original linen mat and ebonized frame with red fillet, with usual toning and wear.


“Fancy Free.” American Ballet Theatre. 2003-2007. (15 November 2012).

“Margaret Sullivan and Lucia Chase.” Corbis Images. 6 October 1954. Online at: (15 November 2012).

Additional information


20th Century