c. 1879-1882
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

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.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Waiting
  • Date: c. 1879-1882
  • Medium: Pastel on beige laid paper
  • Dimensions: 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: M.1983.1.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

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).

Masterpieces by Old and Modern Painters

  • New York, M. Knoedler & Co., 1915-04-06 to 1915-04-24
Jamot, Paul, Degas, pl. 58b p. 151
Keller, Horst, Edgar Degas, fig. 104
Lord Hindlip, An Auctioneer's Lot, Triumphs and Disasters at Christie's and Beyond, p. 124 ; p. 125 (ill.)
Clark, Kenneth, The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic versus Classic Art, p. 320
King, Pauline, The House Beautiful, p. 5
Weitzenhoffer, Frances, The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America, pp. 95, 107
The Museums of the World, p. 14
Rewald, John, Edgar Degas, no. 2
Wilson, William, California Museums, p. 176
Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, no. 778 p. 122
Vollard, Amboise, Degas, p. 113
Wold, G., Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, no. 237
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 1704 p. 437
Weitzenhoffer, Frances, The Creation of the Havemeyer Collection, 1875-1900, fig. 74 p. 241
Revue de l'Art, p. 389
Bentley, T., Art & Antiques, p. 75
Distel, Anne, Renoir's Portraits, Impressions of an Age, p. 349
Nicodemi, Giorgio, Il pittore, i cavalli e le ballerine, opp. p. 96
Degas: Form and Space, fig. 132 p. 132
Schacherl, Lillian, Edgar Degas: Dancers and Nudes, pp. 30, 123
Vollard, Ambroise, Degas: An Intimate Portrait, p. 103
Meyer, S., First Impressions: Edgar Degas, pp. 67-68, 91
Duret-Robert, F., Connaissance des Arts, pp. 68-69
Moore, G., Kunst und Künstler, p. 145
Herbert, Robert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure and Parisian Society, fig. 120 pp. 118, 199
Rubin, Susan Goldman, Degas and the Dance, p. 23
Rich, Daniel C., Edgar-Hilaire-Germain Degas, pp. 19, 98, 99
Frederickson, Burton, The Burlington Magazine, fig. 107 p. 268
Kendall, Richard, Degas by Himself, p. 206
Alexandre, Arsène, La Renaissance de l'Art Français, p. 483
Thomson, Richard, Edgar Degas: Waiting,
Hoving, Thomas, The Connoisseur, p. 11
Geffroy, Gustave, L'Art et les Artistes, p. 16
Fredericksen, Burton, Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum, no. 44
Documentary: Degas and the Dance, 10 years use of listed image within the documentary only in the media of all world television, non-theatric, DVD, and VHS with world rights.,
Cabanne, Pierre, Edgar Degas, pl. 96 pp. 99, 108, 134
Vollard, Amboise, Degas: An Intimate Portrait, p. 27
Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 698 pp. 115, 150, 395
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 146
The H. O. Havemeyer Collection: catalogue of paintngs, prints, sculptures, and works of Art, pp. 382-383
Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby's 1982-1983, fig. 5 pp. 11, 100
Lafond, Paul, Degas, pp. 30, 36
Boggs, Jean Sutherland, Degas inédit. Actes du Colloque Degas, p. 42
Dumas, Ann, and others, Degas e gli italiani a Parigi, fig. 24 pp. 50-51
Havemeyer, Louisine, Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector, pp. 246, 258
Lipton, Eunice, Looking into Degas: Uneasy Images of Women and Modern Life, fig. 61 pp. 102-103
Browse, Lillian, Degas Dancers, no. 71 p. 362
Lecomte, G., L'Art et les Artistes, p. 26
Rivière, Georges, Degas, p. 85
The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, pp. 314-315
L'Art et les Artistes, p. 322
Heilbrun, F., Degas inédit. Actes du Colloque Degas, p. 177
Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, Fig. 20 p. 172
Bouret, J., Degas, p. 212
The Impressionist Revolution, pp. 205, 261
McMullen, Roy, Degas: His Life, Times, and Work, pp. 367, 472
Florin, L., Art, pp. 40-41
Mauclair, Camille, Degas, no. 117, pl. 177
Norton, Thomas E., 100 Years of Collecting in America: The Story of Sotheby Parke-Bernet, p. 223
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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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