Danseuses by Edgar Degas




Edgar Degas

Ref SPQ860
Type Print
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‘Danseuses’ is a masterful example of Degas' dance imagery. No subject attracted Degas more profoundly than the ballet. It has been estimated that he made approximately 1500 drawings, paintings, and sculptures of dancers, more than half of his total output. Degas' body of dance imagery encompasses a seemingly limitless vocabulary of poses, representing a relentless exploration of the figure in motion The painting depicts ballerinas standing on both sides of a stage. Degas has used a reduced depth of the pictorial space, has lowered his point of view to be closer to normal, and focuses on a group of figures. The group of beautiful ballerinas all have dark hair, are dressed in the same costume and are of similar height so they have no distinguishable features. The scene is predominately dark green and grey but the bright pink dresses allow a sudden burst of colour. Degas had an incredible ability to take a subject that seemed intensely, even scandalously, modern at the time and to instill it with timelessness. The make-believe realm of the theatre provided the perfect forum for such material, as many of the clues as to the era have been deliberately removed. This means that the scene in ‘Danseuses’, while strikingly modern to the French nineteenth-century audience, could plausibly have shown dancers from decades earlier, or even a century later.