The Dancing Examination (1880) by Edgar Degas

The Dancing Examination - Edgar Degas - 1880

Artwork Information

TitleThe Dancing Examination
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions63.4 x 48.2 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationDenver Art Museum (DAM), Denver, CO, US

About The Dancing Examination

“The Dancing Examination” is an artwork created by Edgar Degas in 1880, known for his interest in the subject of dance. The piece is executed in pastel, a medium Degas frequently employed for its versatility and vibrancy. This work embodies the Impressionist movement, a style characterized by its focus on capturing fleeting moments and the effects of light, with which Degas was associated. Measuring approximately 63.4 x 48.2 cm, it is considered a genre painting, depicting scenes of everyday life. The artwork is part of the collection at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) in Denver, Colorado, United States.

The image shows a scene set within a dance studio, where young ballerinas are either practicing or being evaluated. The most prominent figure is a ballerina in the foreground bending forward with one arm stretched out, engaged in a dance movement or pose. Her attire, typical of ballet dancers—comprised of a tutu and ballet slippers—highlights her slender frame and the delicate nature of the dance form. To the right, two observers are depicted; an older woman whose face expresses a watchful attentiveness, perhaps a dance teacher or chaperone, and another ballerina whose upper body is shown, suggesting she is waiting for her turn or observing her peer. The composition leverages Degas’ masterful use of pastels, with soft yet dynamic strokes conveying both the texture of the dancers’ outfits and the luminosity of the setting, which could be seen as characteristic of Impressionist works. The use of light and shadow imbues the scene with a sense of depth, emphasizing the atmosphere of focused practice within the dance studio.

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