Lowering the Curtain (c.1880) by Edgar Degas

Lowering the Curtain - Edgar Degas - c.1880

Artwork Information

TitleLowering the Curtain
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Lowering the Curtain

The artwork titled “Lowering the Curtain,” created circa 1880 by artist Edgar Degas, represents the work of the renowned Impressionist movement. Executed in pastel, a medium Degas famously utilized, it embodies the genre painting tradition and is held within a private collection. This artwork captures a fleeting moment typical of Impressionist preoccupation with the ephemeral.

In the artwork, the viewer is presented with a dynamic scene set against the backdrop of a richly colored theatre curtain, which dominates the upper portion of the composition with warm hues of orange, red, and yellow. The vantage point is intriguingly low and close to the stage, providing an intimate view reminiscent of a spectator peeking from the wings.

Two ballet dancers occupy the central and right side of the canvas, captured in mid-motion as if in the whirl of a performance or rehearsal. Their skirts are rendered with meticulous detail, using strokes that emphasize movement and the airy quality of the fabric. The figures display grace and poise, with one dancer’s arms outstretched and the other’s limbs delicately poised.

The juxtaposition of the dancers against the massive curtain creates a juxtaposition of scale that gives the scene a dramatic tension, as if the performers are dwarfed by the looming presence of the theatre itself. There is an immediacy to this work that resonates with the viewer, inviting them into this intimate moment within the world of the performing arts as documented by Degas.

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