The Star: Dancer on Pointe
c. 1878-1880
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

Like this dancer, Degas’s pictures of the ballet hover precariously between the magic of the footlights and the realities of life backstage. We watch this performance in close-up, either through a pair of opera glasses or from the wings, to which Degas, an elite subscriber at the Paris Opéra, enjoyed access. The dancer’s pose—a piqué en attitude—cannot be sustained for more than a second or two at a time; this fact may explain the confused relationship between her legs and torso, which Degas joined with an awkward puff of tulle beneath her tutu. His model for this figure was Melina Darde, a teenaged member of the corps de ballet, transformed, by the artist’s imagination, into a glimmering, gas-lit star.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: The Star: Dancer on Pointe
  • Date: c. 1878-1880
  • Medium: Gouache and pastel on paper, mounted on board
  • Dimensions: 22-1/4 x 29-3/4 in. (56.5 x 75.6 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1969.40.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Alexis Rouart (1839-1911), Paris (sale, Paris, 11 May 1911, lot 215, ill., as Premier sujet, to);
[Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, stock no. 18.743 (half-ownership), sold 4 July 1911 to];
Sir William Eden, Windlestone, Ferry Hill, Co. Durham (sale, London, Christie's, 1 March 1918, lot 104, as The Dancer, to);
[Reid & Lefevre, London].
Mrs. R. A. Workman, London and U.S., by 1926.
Jakob Goldschmidt (d. 1955), Berlin (until 1933) and New York (1933-55), by 1936.
[Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York].
Grover A. and Jeanne J. Magnin, San Francisco (sale, New York, Parke-Bernet, 15 October 1969, lot 6, color ill., as Danseuse sur la pointe [Premier sujet] to);
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Figure Pieces: Loan Exhibition

  • New York, M. Knoedler & Co., 1937-03-29 to 1937-04-10

Collection of Mr. Jakob Goldschmidt, Under the Auspices of The Greenwich House Music School Committee

  • New York, Residence of Jakob Goldschmidt, 1953-11 to 1953-11

A Loan Exhibition of Degas for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary

  • Wildenstein & Co. (New York, N.Y.), 1949-04-07 to 1949-05-14

Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1958-03-03 to 1958-04-06

Redesigned Degas Galleries

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1995-05-04 to 1997-06-01

Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-11-09 to 2018-04-09

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and The Norton Simon Foundation_1

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1973-05-03 to 1976-06-15
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 493 p. 273
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Les Arts, p. 30
  • Moore, George, The Burlington Magazine, p. 23
  • Rebatet, Marguerite, Degas, pl. 78
  • Manson, James B., Apollo, pp. 141-142
  • Cabanne, Pierre, Edgar Degas, pl. 82 pp. 108, 135
  • Steadman, David W., The Connoisseur, pp. 222-231
  • Apollo, fig. 10 p. 171
  • Hertz, Henri, Degas, pl. XVII
  • Kendall, Richard, Degas by Himself, p. 150
  • Steadman, David W., The Connoisseur, p. 222-231
  • Brommer, Gerald, Exploring Painting, fig. 1 p. 102
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, L'art de notre temps: Degas, 1912, no. XXV pp. 65-66
  • Manson, James B., The Life and Work of Edgar Degas, 1927, pl. 40 p. 50
  • Mourey, Gabriel, The Studio, 1934, p. 136
  • Browse, Lillian, Degas Dancers, 1949, no. 54 p. 356
  • Leymarie, Jean, L'impressionisme, 1955, p. 66
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Mivervino, L'opera completa de Degas, 1970, no. 516 p. 111
  • Johns, J., Sundancer, 1976, p. 34
  • Eden, Anthony, Another World, 1897-1917, 1977, p. 47
  • International Art Market, 1979, p. 145
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 142
  • Armstrong, Carol, Odd Man Out: Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas, 1991, fig. 27 pp. 56-57
  • Rubin, Susan Goldman, Degas and the Dance, 2002, p. 20
  • Kendall, Richard and Jill DeVonyar, Degas and the Dance, exhibition catalogue, 2002, fig. 235 p. 209
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 15 p. 151
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 687 p. 327
  • Michel Schulman, Degas Catalogue Raisonné Online, 2021, MS-416
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in front Edgar Degas Modeled c. 1882-95; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in line Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, right hand near the ground, left arm outstretched (First arabesque penchée) Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21

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