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Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Dancers Practising at the Barre
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DEGAS BEGAN STUDYING dancers in the 1870s and they became a principal motif in his work. He frequently visited the back stage and public areas of the Opera building in Paris where the ballet was performed. He rarely, however, actually made his studies there, preferring instead to draw in his studio from posed models or memory. Although Degas tended to depict scenes from backstage and the wings of the theatre, through his studies, pastels, paintings and sculptures, he created a detailed picture of both the glamour of the performance and the more sordid reality of the dancers’ backstage life.

Degas was a magnificent draughtsman. He experimented with media and developed a technique called peintre a Vessence, which he used for this drawing on green paper. This is coloured pigment from which the oil has been extracted and which has been thinned with turpentine to enable it to dry quickly.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Dancers Practising at the Barre

From France, ad 1876-77 Ht 47.2 cm
Bequeathed by Cesar Mange de Flauke

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