Dancer (c.1877) by Edgar Degas

Dancer - Edgar Degas - c.1877

Artwork Information

ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Dancer

The artwork “Dancer” by Edgar Degas dates to circa 1877 and is executed in pastel, a medium that Degas became highly skilled in over the course of his career. This particular piece is characterized as a genre painting, capturing an everyday scene or activity—in this case, a dancer, likely a ballerina given Degas’ well-documented interest in the subject. Being a part of the Impressionist movement, it embodies the qualities of lightness, movement, and the capture of a fleeting moment, which are hallmarks of this era. Presently, the artwork is housed in a private collection.

The artwork features a solitary dancer depicted in mid-pose, emphasizing her movement and the form of her dance attire. The use of pastel as a medium allows for soft textures and subtle tonal variations, and it is through these delicate shadings and skillful strokes that Degas has rendered the dancer’s tutu, capturing both its translucency and volume. Her position is skillfully framed with calculated smudges and lines, which help create the impression of movement and the spontaneity of a captured moment. The dancer’s face is shadowed and less detailed, drawing focus to her body’s position and the overall gesture of the dance. This reduction of detail is a strategic choice that supports the impressionistic intention of representing the impression of a scene rather than a detailed representation. The dancer’s attire and pose suggest a rehearsal or private moment, rather than a public performance, which adds an intimate quality to the piece.

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