139
139

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION, CHICAGO

Edgar Degas
DANSEUSE AU REPOS
Estimate
500,000700,000
JUMP TO LOT
139

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION, CHICAGO

Edgar Degas
DANSEUSE AU REPOS
Estimate
500,000700,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Edgar Degas
1834 - 1917
DANSEUSE AU REPOS
Stamped Degas (lower left)
Counterproof with pastel on paper
21 1/2 by 17 1/2 in.
54.7 by 43.7 cm
Executed circa 1897-1900.
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Provenance

Estate of the artist (and sold: Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, December 11-13, 1918, lot 361 (titled Danseuse en jaune))
Gustave Pellet, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
Maurice Exteens, Paris (acquired from the above)
Justin K. Thannhauser, Lucerne & New York
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York (a gift from the above and sold: Sotheby's, London, March 31, 1982, lot 64)
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, California (acquired from the above in 1985 and sold by the estate: Christie's, London, June 24, 2003, lot 49)
Acquired at the above sale

Exhibited

Tübingen, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Edgar Degas 1834-1894, 1984, no. 206

Literature

Denis Rouart, Degas à la recherche de sa technique, Paris, 1945, mentioned p. 74
Paul-André Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre, vol. III, Paris, 1947, no. 1303, illustrated p. 759
Lillian Browse, Degas Dancers, London, 1949, p. 402, illustrated pl. 203 (titled Danseuse en jaune assise; medium described as monotype retouched with pastel)
A Picture Book of 19th and 20th Century Masterpieces from the Thannhauser Foundation (exhibition catalogue), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1972, illustrated p. 14
Vivian Endicott Barnett, Justin K. Thannhauser Collection, New York, 1978, no. 11, illustrated pp. 46-48

Catalogue Note

Degas' studies of ballet dancers in various stages of preparation and performance is one of the most iconic genres of Impressionist art. In addition to being a comprehensive exploration of an activity that challenged the possibilities of physical movement and artistry of the human body, these studies, primarily done with pastel, are also a window into Parisian society at the end of the nineteenth century and a deeply psychological examination of performers who entertained the social elite. In the present work, Degas focuses his attention on one dancer, who is diligently stretching backstage prior to a performance. Engaged in her craft, she looks away from the viewer. Her body, graceful and lithe, is rendered with refined sensitivity, the curves of her body and the form of her limbs taking shape through Degas' adroit manipulation of color and line in the pastel medium. Behind her, another dancer saunters behind a neoclassical column, presumably on her way to the stage for her time in the spotlight. With his choice of a warm palette, in particular the radiant yellows and greens of the dancer's tutu, Degas has imbued the entire composition with a sense of vitality.

Degas behind-the scenes depictions of the ballet are central to his series of dancers; in fact, around three-quarters of Degas’ renderings from this period are concerned with the backstage, set in the classroom, dressing room, foyer, the wings and the green room where the ballerinas like Melinda Darde and Adèle Marchisio would mingle (see fig. 1). Like many upper-class Parisians of his day, Degas had a subscription to the ballet and as an abonné he became a member of an elite club that enjoyed special privileges, including access to these backstage areas.

Throughout Degas' career, his treatment of this subject underwent a radical metamorphosis. In the later decades, the artist's visits to the ballet became less frequent and he began working increasingly from models in his studio on the rue Victor Massé. Whereas visits to the ballet had only afforded Degas fleeting demonstrations of the dancers' choreographed movements, the privacy of the studio presented him with the opportunity to pose a model.

The curator and scholar Anne F. Maheux has discussed the artist’s use of pastel, and the process that he developed to render his compositions with a richness that was unparalleled by artists of his generation. She writes, "Degas' restless experimentation with combined media eventually evolved into a purer pastel technique, comprised of vigorously hatched, interpenetrating layers of colors that, according to Rouart, were due to his weakening eyesight. The extraordinary textures found in these works…were created by an intense network of bright colors, applied in a spirited variety of squiggles, striations, and prominent crisscross hachures" (Jean Sutherland Boggs & Anne F. Maheux, Degas Pastel, New York, 1992, pp. 31-32).

This work was once in the collection of Justin Thannhauser, one of the greatest Impressionist and Modern collectors of the twentieth century, whose gift to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum remains of the institution's greatest treasures.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York