Dancers in the Rotunda at the Paris Opéra

Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
c. 1875-1878 and c. 1894
Oil on canvas 
34-7/8 x 37-3/4 in. (88.6 x 95.9 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

This view of the main rehearsal studio at the Paris opera house (known as the Palais Garnier) demonstrates Degas’s tendency to revisit and reimagine pictures, sometimes many years after he first painted them. He began work on this canvas around 1875, when the Palais Garnier had just opened. X-rays suggest that the original composition included a spiral staircase at left and a different pose for the dancer at right, but the most dramatic alterations Degas made when he returned to the painting nearly twenty years later have to do with the texture of its surface and the use of color. Thin, overlapping veils of pigment—often applied with fingertips, rather than a brush—create a dreamy, opalescent effect far removed from the crisp naturalism of Degas’s early career.


Edgar Degas Estate, Paris (sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 6-8 May 1918, lot 66, as Répétition au foyer de la danse, to);
[Jos Hessel, Paris, who on 10 March 1921 deposited it with Durand-Ruel, Paris (D-R no. 12385).
[Paul Guillaume, Paris by 1922].
Léon Orsodi, heirs of, sold jointly 17 August 1927 to;
[Durand-Ruel, New York (stock no. NY 5022), and Jos Hessel, Paris, sold 22 May 1929 to];
Josef Stransky (1872-1936), New York, still in 1934;
[Wildenstein & Co., New York, by May 1938 – December 1944 to];
[Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, to];
Patricia Kane (Mrs. Pierre) Matisse, New York, sold 1968 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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