Dancer with a Fan (c.1897 – c.1901) by Edgar Degas

Dancer with a Fan - Edgar Degas - c.1897 - c.1901

Artwork Information

TitleDancer with a Fan
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1897 - c.1901
Art MovementImpressionism

About Dancer with a Fan

The artwork known as “Dancer with a Fan” was created by the renowned artist Edgar Degas, who is positioned within the Impressionist movement. This pastel on paper was developed during the period approximately between 1897 and 1901. As a genre painting, it reflects a moment of daily life translated into art.

The artwork portrays a young ballet dancer in mid-pose. Her body is angled away from the viewer, creating an impression of candidness and spontaneity, as if captured in a fleeting moment during a rehearsal or performance. The dancer’s attire is typical of ballet, with a tutu that showcases Degas’ masterful handling of texture and light. The tutu’s fabric is rendered with soft, swirling pastel marks that suggest volume and movement. The dancer holds a fan, which is slightly opened and exhibits vibrant colors that contrast with the more subdued palette of her dress and the surrounding environment.

The setting of the artwork is rendered with a hazy quality, characteristic of the Impressionist style. Brushstrokes are visible and deliberately loose, giving an effect of the transitory light playing through the scene. Degas has captured not just the physicality of the dancer’s form but also the ephemeral quality of the performance.

In this piece, Degas’ use of pastels allows for a delicate interplay of color and a softness that complements the subject matter. The sense of movement and the reality of the dancer’s experience are central themes, reflecting Degas’ ongoing fascination with the world of dance and the beauty of its transient moments. By documenting a seemingly ordinary scene with his unique perspective, Degas encourages the viewer to notice the elegance and complexity inherent in everyday experiences.

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