This stirring oil on canvas presents a traditional Indonesian dance filled with music, movement, and joy. Martha Sawyers, the artist, made a name in the illustration world for her deeply sensitive and captivating portraits of Far Eastern life, and this jubilant image celebrates the culture of her adoptive home. As an adventurous young artist, Sawyers took an impulsive trip through the South Seas on a Dutch freighter after her graduation from the Art Student’s League. The trip changed the course of her life, and her illustrations helped counter the crude stereotypes of the East which so often permeated American culture during and after the Second World War.
During her long career, she returned to the region time and again, and her appreciation for the variety of cultures and peoples she encountered culminated in the book she co-authored with her husband William Reusswig India and Southeast Asia. This oil on canvas is in keeping with the illustrations used in that work, but its eroticism would have precluded its inclusion. Painting is in a fine state of preservation and ready to frame.