Three Dancers before Exercise (c.1880) by Edgar Degas

Three Dancers before Exercise - Edgar Degas - c.1880

Artwork Information

TitleThree Dancers before Exercise
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Three Dancers before Exercise

The artwork “Three Dancers before Exercise” by Edgar Degas dates to circa 1880 and is executed in pastel. Exemplifying the Impressionistic style, this genre painting features the candid portrayal of ballerinas and resides in a private collection. The medium, pastel, allows for soft yet vibrant coloration which is characteristic of the Impressionist movement, wherein artists aimed to capture the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere.

The artwork depicts three dancers at what appears to be a moment of rest before they begin their exercise. The central figure is seated and looks directly at the viewer, while the other two, flanking her, are slightly turned away, deep in their own thoughts or possibly engaged in a quiet conversation, indicating a sense of candidness and the capturing of a casual moment rather than a posed scene. The dancers are donning ballet costumes with corseted bodices and tutus adorned with delicate sparkles, suggesting the vibrancy of the stage attire.

Degas employs a subdued palette with an emphasis on shades of pink, orange, and blue, with the illumination focusing on the figures themselves, making them the central point of the composition. The background is rendered in darker, less distinct hues that allow for the dancers to stand out. The pastel medium is used masterfully to blend colors, providing a soft textural quality that signifies the Impressionistic fascination with light and shadow. Overall, the artwork captures the grace and poise of the dancers, along with a glimpse of the less glamorous moments of practice and preparation behind the stage.

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