Ballet Dancers in the Wings (c. 1900) by Edgar Degas

Ballet Dancers in the Wings - Edgar Degas - 1900

Artwork Information

TitleBallet Dancers in the Wings
ArtistEdgar Degas
MediumPastel on Paper
Dimensions71.1 x 66 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationSaint Louis Art Museum, St

About Ballet Dancers in the Wings

The artwork titled “Ballet Dancers in the Wings” was created by the renowned artist Edgar Degas in the year 1900. It is executed in pastel on paper and is a fine example of the Impressionist movement, measuring 71.1 by 66 cm. As a genre painting, this piece showcases a snapshot of life, capturing a candid moment of ballet dancers. The painting is part of the collection at the Saint Louis Art Museum in St. Louis.

The artwork features a glimpse behind the scenes of a ballet performance, where dancers are depicted in various states of rest and preparation. In the foreground, a ballerina is seated on a bench, her body hunched over with fatigue or perhaps deep in concentration, embodying a sense of physical and possibly emotional exhaustion that contrasts with the typical portrayal of dancers in the spotlight. Nearby, other dancers interact, one standing with her back to the viewer and another looking toward her, creating a dynamic of engagement and communication.

The figures are rendered with a looseness characteristic of Degas’s later style, their forms blending into the sketchy, evocative background that suggests the labyrinthine corridors and wings of a theater. The masterful use of pastels imparts a softness to the textures of the tutus and a vibrancy to the colors that capture the fleeting effects of artificial stage lighting. Through his distinctive brushwork, Degas evokes the movement and energy of the dancers even as they pause. This piece reflects the intimate and immediate perspective Degas often sought to capture in his ballet-themed works, providing insight into the everyday aspects of a dancer’s life offstage.

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