Lot 1
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Edgar Degas

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Edgar Degas
  • Deux études pour danseuses
  • stamped Degas (lower left); stamped with the Atelier mark on the reverse
  • charcoal heightened with white on green paper
  • 46.8 by 29.5cm.
  • 18 3/8 by 11 5/8 in.


Estate of the artist (sold: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Atelier Degas, 2ème Vente, 11th-13th December 1918, lot 227)

Jules Strauss, Paris (sold: Galeries Georges Petit, Paris,15th December 1932, lot 10)

M. Bellier, Paris (purchased at the above sale)

Wildenstein & Co. Ltd., New York (acquired by 1949)

Edwin C. Vogel, New York (acquired by 1959)

Acquavella Galleries, New York

Acquired from the above by the late owner in December 1988


New York, Wildenstein & Co., A Loan Exhibition of Degas for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary, 1949, no. 50, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Dancer, Study for the 'Rehearsal' and as dating from 1879)

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Drawings Through Four Centuries, 1949, no. 53

Toledo, Museum of Art, Degas Exhibition, 1950, no. 67

London, Wildenstein & Co., The Art of Drawing: 1500-1950, 1953, no. 90, illustrated in the catalogue

New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Great Master Drawings of Seven Centuries, 1959, no. 73, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Dancers)

New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, The Presence of Ingres, 1988, no. 8, illustrated in the catalogue

Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Degas, 1993, no. 35, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, La Sculpture des Peintres, 1997, no. 14, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 102, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Venice, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, 1999, no. 118, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 129, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La passion du dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 114, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 63, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Munich, Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 114, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

London, Royal Academy of Arts, Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement, 2011, no. 8, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Daniel Catton Rich, Degas, New York, 1953, no. 32, illustrated

François Daulte, Le dessin français de Manet à Cézanne, Lausanne, 1954, illustrated pl. 8

'Drawings of Seven Centuries at Knoedler's New York', in Burlington Magazine, 1959, no. 54, illustrated p. 351

The Pierpont Magazine Library, Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugène-Victor Thaw, New York, 1985, vol. II, pp. 65-66

Robert Gordon & Andrew Forge, Degas, Paris, 1988, illustrated p. 189 (as dating from circa 1878-79)


Executed on green paper, not laid down, hinged to the mount at the reverse of the upper corners. There are remnants of old hinges at the upper edge. Apart from some slight discolouration of the left and right edges, six small repaired tears and losses on the right edge of the paper, and two repaired tears on the upper edge, this work is in good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although the paper has a very slightly softer tonality in the original.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The present work is a study for two figures of ballet dancers in Degas’ celebrated oil The Rehearsal in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (fig. 1). In the catalogue of the recent exhibition Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement, in which this drawing was included, Richard Kendall and Jill DeVonyar wrote: ‘Almost every dancer in The Rehearsal was first studied by Degas in one or more drawings that he then carefully transferred to his canvas. This process often involved superimposing a grid of lines on the drawn sheet that was subsequently repeated on the picture surface […]. Another sheet of this kind is Two Studies of Dancers [the present work], for which Degas has chosen a rich green paper in order to explore the light and shadow on his young model. […] Almost reverting to his earlier classical manner, in his drawing Degas specified the outlines of her body and tutu – again containing them within a grid for ease of transfer to canvas – and added delicate highlights in white chalk’ (R. Kendall & J. DeVonyar in Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., pp. 42-43).


Depicting dancers during a rehearsal, Deux etudes pour danseuses is a remarkable example of Degas’ early pastels on the ballet theme. The artist’s lifelong interest in dance developed in the 1860s, when as a young man he regularly attended the ballet and other performances such as opera, café-concerts and the circus. Degas was attracted to the spectacle and excitement of live entertainment and found in it an endless source of inspiration, sketching the performers from nature. In this manner he was able to study both the natural unguarded gestures of dancers at rest and the stylised movements of classical ballet. Degas was fascinated not only by the public spectacle of ballet performances, but also by the more informal situations around them: the behind-the-scenes world of the rehearsal room or the dance class, the dancers’ preparation for and tension before a performance, and the more relaxed, casual moments that followed afterwards. Executed on a sheet of green paper, the fine lines delineating the dancers’ bodies and skirts and white highlights give this work a wonderful sense of both elegance and vibrancy.