- Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
- c. 1879-1882
- Pastel on beige laid paper
- 19 x 24 in. (48.2 x 61 cm)
- Credit Line:
- Jointly owned by the Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena and The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
- Accession Number:
- © Norton Simon Art Foundation
With its raking composition and abrupt contrast of black and white, this picture grants us a glimpse backstage at the Paris Opéra without revealing any clear, coherent narrative. The two figures, each apparently absorbed in her own thoughts, may represent a young dancer and her chaperone or, indeed, one dancer dressed for rehearsal and another in street clothes. Only their shared sense of exhaustion and anxiety is clear—suggesting, perhaps, the anticipation or aftermath of an examination. Degas, as no artist before or since, took a keen interest in the physical routine of ballet dancers’ lives, the labor behind their art. At the Opéra, examinations played an important role in this routine, determining dancers’ salaries and professional advancement.
Léon-Marie Clapisson, Paris, before 1882, sold for frf. 6000 on 21 April 1892 to;
[Galerie Durand Ruel, Paris (stock number 2124), sold for f. 15,000 on 19 September 1895 to];
H. O. and Louisine Havemeyer, New York, until 1907;
Louisine Havemeyer, New York, 1907-1929, by descent to her son;
Horace Havemeyer, New York, 1929-1956, by descent to his widow;
Doris Dick Havemeyer, New York, 1956-1982 (sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 18 May 1983, lot 8, to);
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena, and The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (JPG #83.GG.219).
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