Edgar Degas: Danseuses en Blanc (c.1878)

Screenshot_2018-12-08 degas, edgar danseuses en blanc drawings sotheby's n09430lot58rn9en
Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917), Danseuses en Blanc (c.1878), Signed Degas (upper right), Pastel and gouache on joined paper, 20 7/8 by 25 3/8 in., 53 by 65.2 cm, Source: Sotheby’s

Degas – Painter of the Ballet

In this sparklingly fresh work in pastel, Degas captures a group of four dancers in mid-flight as they step out from the wings. Their arms and legs extended in arabesque, their black neck ribbons, colorful headdresses and frothy white tutus are caught in the bright glow of the footlights. Before them stretches a broad expanse of empty stage and at the rear painted scenery flats vaguely suggest a landscape setting. Only rarely did Degas depict actual performances and here he gives us no precise information about the ballet or the dancers – their faces are hidden from view and no figure is seen in its entirety. Sotheby’s

6Screenshot_2018-12-08 degas, edgar danseuses en blanc drawings sotheby's n09430lot58rn9enEdgar Degas (1834 – 1917), Danseuses en Blanc (c.1878), Signed Degas (upper right), Pastel and gouache on joined paper, 20 7/8 by 25 3/8 in., 53 by 65.2 cm, Source: Sotheby’s.(detail).

“Dancers in White encapsulates Degas’ unique vision of the strange poetry and the pure enchantment of the dance.”

Sotheby’s

Japanese Influences: Unusual Viewpoints

…the bird’s eye view and cropped figures in the Japanese ukiyo-e prints by artists such as Hokusai (1760-1849) and Hiroshige (1797-1858) that were so admired by Degas and his contemporaries, provided refreshing alternatives to the single-point perspective idea of composition that had prevailed since the Renaissance.

The quest for unusual viewpoints – looking down on the stage from a box or frequently the view from the wings – recurs consistently in Degas’s highly innovative ballet scenes of the late 1870s and early 1880s. Breaking with all conventional notions of composition, these novel and daring pictorial structures allowed Degas to conflate the glamour of the performance on stage with vignettes of the more prosaic world behind the scenes.

Sotheby’s

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    A most beautiful work of art from a great artist for sure…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your visit and comment, FBC. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

        My pleasure, 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rowena says:

    Such an enchanting painting and thank you for sharing. My 15 year old daughter is wanting to become a professional ballerina and I watch a lot of dance when we’re not in lockdown. I have even done a few a adult ballet classes. I loved it!!
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have truly enjoyed watching your children grow up on your blog. Keep dancing, Rowena! 😎

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rowena says:

        Thank you so much, Sunnyside. My blog is a wonderful record of our family life. I’m working on the keep dancing bit. Trying to get myself motivated for a walk.

        Liked by 1 person

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