Lot 360
  • 360

EDGAR DEGAS | Danseuses à la barre

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Edgar Degas
  • Danseuses à la barre
  • Stamped Degas (lower left)
  • Pastel and charcoal on paper laid down on card
  • 12 1/2 by 19 1/2 in.
  • 32 by 49.5 cm
  • Executed circa 1883-85.


Estate of the artist (and sold: Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, Atelier Edgar Degas, 1ère vente, May 6-8, 1918, lot 323)
Monteux Collection, Paris
Galerie Brame & Lorenceau, Paris
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above)
Acquired after 1992


Lilian Browse, Degas Dancers, London, 1949, no. 49a, illustrated p. 355 (titled Plié à la seconde à la barre (deux danseurs) and dated circa 1880)
Paul-André Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre, vol. III, New York & London, 1984, no. 758, illustrated p. 431

Catalogue Note

For Degas, the classrooms of the Paris Opéra Garnier functioned as his studio and mainstage for his depictions of the ballet. His practice ran parallel with the ballerinas’ rehearsals: as they laced their slippers, he sharpened his pencils; when they would dance, Degas would draw. He practiced and followed their movements with the very same precision and diligence with which the ballerinas executed their pliés and rond de jambes at the barre. Danseuses à la barre is also emblematic of Degas’ continued interest in the Opéra’s stage and its spacious classrooms. In his drawing, Degas slants the floor plane on a diagonal and crops the ballerina by the frame while her limbs and gestures remain comfortably contained with the picture, absorbed in her craft. Without narrative, the viewer's focus is drawn directly to the dancers' movements and gestures. We thus find ourselves at the periphery of a rehearsal, watching the dancers practice from a distance. Ultimately, Degas’ oeuvre captures what Eunice Lipton has called "'the demystification of the dance,' a matter-of-fact engagement with long hours in class and rehearsal room, where youthful physiques were tuned for their fleeting roles in the footlights" (quoted in Richard Kendall, ed., Degas and the Dance (exhibition catalogue), Detroit Museum of Arts, Detroit, 2003, p. 137). For Lipton, Degas fed into the enigmatic character and charm of the ballet, blurring the boundaries between theater and reality.