Dancer (Battement in Second Position)

Dancer (Battement in Second Position)
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
Charcoal heightened with white and pale yellow pastel, on gray-brown laid paper (watermark "Michallet") 
17-3/4 x 11-7/8 in. (45 x 30.2 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

After halfheartedly studying law to please his upper-middle-class parents, Edgar Degas enrolled at the venerable École des Beaux-Arts, the official French arts academy. In the classroom, at the Louvre and on trips abroad, the young Degas continued the standard course of study, copying Italian Old Masters and French classical art. During these years, he developed a superb command of drawing, a fundamental skill that lay at the heart of his 60-year career. This drawing is an exquisite example of his draftsmanship: swift, confident strokes of black charcoal define the position of the dancer, and wisps of white and yellow pastel emphasize both volume and light. Although the work was chosen by the artist as one of the 20 most important examples of his drawing through 1896, the grid lines remind us that it was originally intended as a study. Variants of this figure can be found in at least four of his canvases.


Edgar Degas Estate, Paris (sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 12 December 1918, vente I, lot 247, as Danseuse debout, la jambe droit levée).
Hunt Henderson (d. 1939), New Orleans, by 1938, by inheritance to his wife;
Jeanne (Mrs. Hunt) Henderson, by descent to;
Henderson heirs, until at least 1961.
Paul M. (1914-1988) and Ellen B. (1918-1999) Hirschland, Great Neck, New York;
[Galerie Schmit, Paris, sold 23 February 1977, as Danseuse à la barre, to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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