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
Moore, George, The Burlington Magazine, p. 23
Kendall, Richard, Degas by Himself, p. 150
Apollo, fig. 10 p. 171
Kendall, Richard and Jill DeVonyar, Degas and the Dance, exhibition catalogue, fig. 235 p. 209
Mourey, Gabriel, The Studio, p. 136
Armstrong, Carol, Odd Man Out: Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas, fig. 27 pp. 56-57
Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Mivervino, L'opera completa de Degas, no. 516 p. 111
Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, Fig. 15 p. 151
Manson, James B., The Life and Work of Edgar Degas, pl. 40 p. 50
Hertz, Henri, Degas, pl. XVII
Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 493 p. 273
Johns, J., Sundancer, p. 34
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 687 p. 327
Rebatet, Marguerite, Degas, pl. 78
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 142
Browse, Lillian, Degas Dancers, no. 54 p. 356
Steadman, David W., The Connoisseur, p. 222-231
Leymarie, Jean, L'impressionisme, p. 66
Steadman, David W., The Connoisseur, pp. 222-231
Lemoisne, Paul-André, Les Arts, p. 30
Eden, Anthony, Another World, 1897-1917, p. 47
Cabanne, Pierre, Edgar Degas, pl. 82 pp. 108, 135
Manson, James B., Apollo, pp. 141-142
Lemoisne, Paul-André, L'art de notre temps: Degas, no. XXV pp. 65-66
Brommer, Gerald, Exploring Painting, fig. 1 p. 102
International Art Market, p. 145
Rubin, Susan Goldman, Degas and the Dance, p. 20
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Additional Artwork by Artist

Actress in Her Dressing Room Edgar Degas c. 1875-1880 and c. 1895-1905
After the Bath Edgar Degas c. 1890-1893 (dated in error by another hand: 1885)
Autograph Letter to Durand-Ruel Edgar Degas n.d.

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form