Marie Laurencin was exiled from Paris for almost five years between 1914 and 1919, during which time she mainly stayed in Spain, before moving to Switzerland and Germany. She was greatly affected by her separation from the French capital, the unrivalled centre of artistic creativity. After her return, she developed a new style in the 1920s which is reflected in the Spanish Dancers. The muted colours and the geometric patterns inherited from Cubism are replaced by light tones and undulating compositions. The alliance between the feminine world and the animal world, which became her favourite theme, is dazzling here.
Three young women seem to spin around a small bounding dog, in front of a large grey horse. Marie Laurencin herself is depicted kneeling in the foreground wearing a pink tutu, the only warm tone in the painting. Her hands are entwined with those of the young woman on the right. The young woman on the left, excluded from this complicity, is executing a dance step and holding a hat in place on her head. Her eyes lead almost seamlessly into the large almond-shaped eye of the horse. The animals here are free companions, the dancers' confidantes in a strange paradise.