Seated Dancer Rubbing Her Leg
c. 1878
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
Not on View

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Degas developed a near-obsession with the motif of the seated dancer rubbing her leg or adjusting her shoe. His interest in this pose, at once intimate and awkward, sums up his fascination with life backstage at the ballet—the grit behind the glamor. This single-figure study is squared off in charcoal to facilitate the figure’s enlargement and transfer to a broader composition, possibly a pastel titled Dancers Resting today in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Seated Dancer Rubbing Her Leg
  • Date: c. 1878
  • Medium: Charcoal with white and dark brown pastel on gray-brown laid paper
  • Dimensions: 17-5/8 x 12-1/4 in. irreg. (44.8 x 31.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1978.23.D
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Michel Manzi, Paris (sale, Paris, Galerie Manzi Joyant, 13-14 March 1919, lot 127, as Danseuse se chaussant, to);
?Private Collection, France.
Docteur Édouard (Eduardo) Mollard, Paris (d. 1947), by inheritance to his widow;
Mme. Enriqueta Alsop-Mollard (d.1971) (sale, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 21 March 1958, lot B, as Danseuse se chaussant, for ff. 5,400 to);
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., Inc., New York, stock no. 5731, sold November 1959 to];
John D. Rockefeller III, New York.
[E. V. Thaw & Co., Inc., New York, 1978, sold 22 August 1978 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1930 to

[on loan]

  • Art Institute of Chicago, 1978-08-09 to 1979-03-05

Redesigned Degas Galleries

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

Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-11-09 to 2018-04-09
  • Browse, Lillian, Degas Dancers, 1949, no. 67, pl. 67 p. 361
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 146
  • Hüttinger, Eduard, Degas, 1990, p. 88
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 14 p. 145
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1542 p. 419
  • Museum of Modern Art, Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty, 2016, Figure 2 p. #64
  • Carmen Fernández Jacob, La Patalogía Ocular en la Pintura a Través de la Clínica Oftalmológica, 2017, Fig 5 p. 103
  • Michel Schulman, Degas Catalogue Raisonné Online, 2021, MS-1369

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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