Edgar Degas’ The Dance Class (1874) is a notable piece of artwork within the Impressionist movement. The painting depicts a group of ballerinas and their mothers waiting in preparation for an examination, with one dancer performing an attitude. It is thought to be among Degas’ most ambitious works based on the theme of dance.
While Degas was associated with the Impressionists, he never fully identified himself as one. The Dance Class was intended for display in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 but was not shown until two years later due to unfinished details. Alongside other famous pastel works examining dancers such as The Star (1878), it helped solidify both his place within the movement and his contribution to art history.
The Ballet Class (1871-4), another piece by Degas featuring ballerinas, was completed for French opera singer and art collector Princess de Sagan. This showcases Degas’ admiration for ballet culture itself while also highlighting how common this theme became throughout his career.
Overall, The Dance Class is a prime example of Impressionist art that displayed significant influence during its time while marking significant contributions towards understanding ballet culture aesthetically.