Dancers in the Rotunda at the Paris Opéra
c. 1875-1878 and c. 1894
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
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.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Dancers in the Rotunda at the Paris Opéra
  • Date: c. 1875-1878 and c. 1894
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 34-7/8 x 37-3/4 in. (88.6 x 95.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1968.25.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

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.

The Loan Exhibition of the new Museum Building

  • Worcester, Worcester Art Museum, 1933 to 1934

"Collection of a Collector": Modern French Paintings from Ingres to Matisse (The Private Collection of the late Josef Stransky)

  • Wildenstein & Co. (London, England), 1936-07 to

Recent Acquisitions by the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, 1968-11-12 to 1969-03-31

Edgar Degas: Paintings, Pastels, Drawings, Sculpture

  • Smith College Museum of Art, 1933-11-28 to 1933-12-18

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-04-21 to 1972-07-07

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and the Norton Simon Foundation_2

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1974-10-19 to 1976-06-15

Redesigned Degas Galleries

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

Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972-12-03 to 1974-07-17

Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-11-09 to 2018-04-09
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 819 p. 471
  • Flint, Ralph, Art News, p. 88, 97
  • Cott, Perry B., Bulletin of the Worcester Art Museum, 1933, p. 153-155
  • Smith College Museum of Art Bulletin, 1934, p. 19
  • French Masters of the XIX. and XX. Century: The Private Collection of Josef Stransky . . . including recent acquisitions up to May 1935, 1935,
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, 1970, no. 823 p. 123
  • Degas by himself: Drawings, prints, paintings, writings, 1987, p. 269
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 145
  • Kendall, Richard and Jill DeVonyar, Degas and the Dance, exhibition catalogue, 2002, fig. 116, color p. 108
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 28 p. 207
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 521 p. 308
  • Fake or Fortune, 2012,
  • Loyrette, Henri, et. al., Degas à l'Opéra, 2019, fig. 206 p. 202; p. [204] (ill.)
  • Loyrette, Henri, et. al., Degas at the Opéra, 2019, fig. 206 p. 202; p. [204] (ill.)
  • Michel Schulman, Degas Catalogue Raisonné Online, 2021, MS-1370
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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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