Edgar Degas’ Dance Class painting, completed in 1874, showcases the renowned artist’s skill and admiration for impressionism. Degas considered himself an impressionist artist and created approximately 1,500 paintings, monotypes, and drawings of ballerinas. This artwork was completed for the French opera singer Jean-Baptiste Faure, depicting Degas’ transition to impressionism.
Degas was particularly famous for his pastel drawings of ballet dancers, considered to be some of his most iconic works. The French painter, sculptor, and printmaker also dismissed the academic principles of mythical and historical subjects in his paintings, preferring to explore more contemporary themes. Despite devoting his life mainly to painting, Degas’ fascination with sculpture was not well-known during his lifetime. Nonetheless, his wax version of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, remains the only sculpture he ever presented.
Dancing played an essential role in Degas’ artworks, as he frequently experimented with different compositions and colors. Two Dancers in the Studio is another famous dance-themed painting, highlighting Degas’ unique style. Later in life, Degas’ declining eyesight brought about significant stylistic changes in his paintings from the 1890s onwards. Overall, Dance Class and Degas’ other artworks demonstrate the artist’s technical skill and innovative vision in the impressionist movement.