Dancer at the Barre (c.1884 – c.1888) by Edgar Degas

Dancer at the Barre - Edgar Degas - c.1884 - c.1888

Artwork Information

TitleDancer at the Barre
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1884 - c.1888
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Dancer at the Barre

The artwork titled “Dancer at the Barre” is a pastel creation by artist Edgar Degas, dated approximately between 1884 and 1888. It is a notable example of his work during the Impressionist movement and falls under the genre painting category. This piece is not publicly displayed as it is part of a private collection.

“Dancer at the Barre” presents a ballerina in a practice setting, engaging intimately with the art of ballet which Degas so frequently explored in his oeuvre. The ballerina is depicted in three-quarter profile, with her back partially towards the viewer, imparting a sense of candidness and informality. Her right leg is propped up on the barre, illustrative of a dancer’s routine practice – refining her craft with stretches to maintain the flexibility so essential for ballet.

Her tutu billows softly, rendered in a series of rapid, expressive strokes that capture the quality of the fabric and the movement inherent in her pose. The pastel medium allows for a soft interplay of light and shadow, and Degas utilizes this to great effect, highlighting the delicate textures of the dancer’s attire and the muscle definition in her extended leg.

The ballerina’s face is turned away, emphasizing the solitary nature of her practice and concentration, yet there is a delicate suggestion of individuality in the posture and tilt of her head. The background is spare, with vertical strokes suggesting an undefined studio space, allowing the viewer to focus on the figure’s form and the poise that is characteristic of a dancer at rest. Degas’ fascination with ballet is seen not only in the subject he chose but also in the way he has captured the essence of the dancer’s discipline through his masterful handling of pastel.

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