Ballet Class, the Dance Hall (1880) by Edgar Degas

Ballet Class, the Dance Hall - Edgar Degas - 1880

Artwork Information

TitleBallet Class, the Dance Hall
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions81.6 x 76.5 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, US

About Ballet Class, the Dance Hall

The artwork entitled “Ballet Class, the Dance Hall” is an oil on canvas painting created by artist Edgar Degas in 1880. This piece, measuring 81.6 by 76.5 cm, is an exemplar of the Impressionist movement and is categorized as a genre painting. The artwork is currently housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, located in Philadelphia, PA, US.

“Ballet Class, the Dance Hall” captures a moment inside a ballet studio where young dancers are practicing. The scene is depicted with a sense of immediacy, characteristic of the Impressionist style, where the transient effects of light and color are emphasized. The composition features a juxtaposition of the dancers in various movements and the figure of a woman seated, engrossed in reading a newspaper.

The dancers are in the midst of their exercises, some poised on tiptoe in a state of balance, while others are adjusting their positions. The brushwork is loose and expressive, conveying movement and the fluttering of the tutus with a dynamic interplay of light and shadow. The woman, whose attention is devoted to the newspaper, offers a counterpoint to the lively dancers, exuding an air of stillness and concentration. This blend of activity and repose provides a narrative tension within the scene, inviting viewers to ponder the relationship between the focused individual and the collective energy of the practice session.

Degas’ choice of vantage points is innovative, presenting the scene at an oblique angle which directs the viewer’s gaze diagonally across the canvas, from the dancers in the foreground toward the background, where a large window permits natural light to saturate the room. The use of earthy tones for the wooden floor and wall contrasts with the brighter shades of the dancers’ attire, further highlighting their ethereal presence in the otherwise mundane setting.

Overall, Edgar Degas’ “Ballet Class, the Dance Hall” reflects the artist’s fascination with the world of ballet and his skill in capturing both the elegance of the dancers and the fleeting qualities of light and movement that are integral to Impressionism.

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