Dancers in the Wings
c. 1876-1878
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

Combining pastel, pastel paste, gouache, distemper (glue-based paint), and peinture à l’essence (conventional paint drained of its oil), this picture is among the most technically sophisticated in Degas’s oeuvre. Color is applied wet, with a brush, for the reverse of a stage flat at left and in rapid, liquid skeins for the ornaments in the dancers’ hair, but dry pastel, rubbed over the bare laid paper, creates an airy effect in the tutus. Degas seems to have begun the composition with the dancer in pink and built it outward, adding nine strips of paper around the edges to make room for her companion, dressed as a butterfly. This costume has been identified with a specific ballet, La Source (The Spring), danced at the Paris Opéra in the 1875–76 season.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Dancers in the Wings
  • Date: c. 1876-1878
  • Medium: Pastel, gouache, distemper, and "essence" on paper, mounted on board
  • Dimensions: 27-1/4 x 19-3/4 in. (69.2 x 50.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1977.06.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Madame de Clermont, Paris, 1899.
[Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, stock no. 1261, by at 1914 (possibly by 1912), sold 1928 to];
[Reid & Lefevre, London, stock no. 316/28, owned jointly with M. Knoedler & Co., Paris and New York, stock no. A603, sold 15 October 1929 to];
Mrs. Edouard L. Jonas (Mrs. H. Harris Jonas, 1884–1974), Paris and New York, to;
[Wildenstein, New York, sold 2 March 1977 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Exposition Centennale d'art français

  • Paris, Grand Palais, 1900 to
  • Jamot, Paul, Degas,no. 105 pp. 84-85
  • Multiple, Christian Lacroix, La Source et le Ballet de l'Opera,2012, p. 31
  • Reff, Theodore, Metropolitan Museum Journal, p. 50, 150-151
  • Vollard, Ambroise, Degas: Quatre-vignt-dix-huit reproductions signées par Degas,
  • Schacherl, Lillian, Edgar Degas: Dancers and Nudes, pp. 51, 123
  • Mauclair, Camille, Edgar Degas,
  • Boggs, Jean Sutherland, et al., Degas, pp. 202-203, 207-208
  • The French Impressionists in Southern California: Paintings, Sculptures and Prints in Public Collections. A Guide Book and Catalogue, pp. 32-33
  • Tatsuya Saito, Revue de l'art,2014, fig. 3 pp. 24-25 ; p. 25 (ill.), front and back covers (ill.)
  • Daily Record,
  • Reff, Theodore, Degas: The Artist's Mind, p. 283-284, 337
  • Lafond, Paul, Degas, opp. p. 72
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 147
  • Rouart, Denis, Degas à la recherche de sa technique, p. 18
  • Hüttinger, Eduard, Degas,
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre,no. 585 pp. 330-331
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 1409 p. 403
  • Country Life, p. 964
  • La Cronique des Arts,fig. 247 p. 56
  • L'Art Moderne et quelques aspects de l'art d'autrefois,pl. 53
  • Knowlton, Walter, Creative Art, p. sup.-52
  • Dumont, Henri, Degas, pp. 46-47
  • Rouart, Denis, Degas: In Search of His Technique, pp. 44-45
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas,no. 753 p. 120-121
  • Le Foll, Joséphine, L'impressionnisme,2020, none pp. 185
  • Art News, pp. 3, 5
  • Shackelford, George, Degas-The Dancers,fig. 2.II p. 61
  • Hertz, Henri, Degas,pl. XII p. 48
  • Dye, Sean, The Mixed-Media Sourcebook, p. 10
  • Lassaigne, Jacques, Edgar Degas, p. 33
  • Schacherl, Lillian, Edgar Degas: Dancers and Nudes, pp. 50-51, 123
  • Keller, Horst, Edgar Degas,fig. 85 p. 102
  • Vanity Fair, p. 45
  • McMullen, Roy, Degas: His Life, Times, and Work, p. 362-363
  • Meier-Graefe, Julius, Degas,pl. XCIX
  • Kendall, Richard and Jill DeVonyar, Degas and the Dance, exhibition catalogue,fig. 192, color p. 172
  • Schwabe, Randolph, Degas: the Draftsman,pl. 1
  • Alexandre, Arsène, Les Arts, p. iv
  • Kent, S., Eyewitness Art: Composition, p. 53
  • Mauclair, Camille, Degas, pp. 121, 167
  • The Great Artists: Their Lives, Works, and Inspiration, pp. 490-491
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, La Revue de l'Art,pl. 13 p. 104
  • Degas: Art in the Making,2004, fig. 26 pp. 31-32
  • Browse, Lillian, Degas Dancers, p. 59, 360
  • Borgmeyer, Charles Louis, The Master Impressionists, p. 237
  • Thomson, Richard, Edgar Degas: Waiting,fig. 26 pp. 42
  • Frankfurter, Alfred, Art News, p. 11
  • Maheux, Anne, Degas Pastels,n. 32, fig. 11, fig. 11a. fig. 16 pp. 29, 80, 30, 31
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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.

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