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