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Edgar Degas - A Ballerina (Danseuse à la barre), about 1880

Edgar Degas (Paris, 1834 - 1917, Paris)

A Ballerina (Danseuse à la barre), about 1880

Black and ochre chalk and pink and white pastel on paper , 30 x 22.8 cm (11 13/16 x 8 15/16 in.)


Edgar Degas was interested in the movement of ballerinas and created about 1,500 paintings and works on paper of dancers.  Apparently unhappy with how he drew the dancer’s left arm in this work, he made a note at the top “bad left arm, looking for another one.” However, something about the drawing must have appealed to Degas as he took the time to enhance the drawing with pastel. Our eyes are drawn to the pointe shoes highlighted in white.Isabella Stewart Gardner supported performing artists and this drawing likely appealed to her love of the stage. She purchased it through her friend, artist Louis Kronberg, who also took inspiration from ballet. Isabella displayed several of his drawings of ballerinas nearby.