Joseph-Marius Avy was the son of a Marseille merchant who spent his apprenticeship in Paris in the studio of Léon Bonnat and Albert Maignan. He exhibited at the French Artists' Salon from 1895 to 1932, where he became known for his large format scenes depicting leisure activities of Parisian high society.

Although his fame waned after the Belle Époque, of which he was one of the stars, his name remains associated with a painting which was largely reproduced during his day and still today: The White Ball.

This large canvas acquired by the City of Paris at the French Artists’ Salon of 1903 has remained one of the major works in the Petit Palais painting collections. It refers to the gatherings organised for young high society girls before their entry into society and depicts, with infinite grace, young girls waltzing and swept away in a whirlwind of lace.

This piece is a preparatory study for the figure of the pianist, acquired at the sale of the contents of Joseph-Marius Avy’s studio in 2013.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The online catalogue of the Petit Palais collections includes around 35,000 notes and is added to regularly. Some notes have minimal information; others are more detailed. They are illustrated or they will be shortly.

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Extern databases

Discover a selection of databases online presenting works from the Petit Palais or documents concerning the history of the museum.