Group of Dancers


Edgar Degas ( French, 1834 - 1917 )

c. 1895–1897
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General Description

While Group of Dancers features Edgar Degas's signature subject of ballet dancers, it is also a curious experiment in medium and setting. Rather than drawing with pastels on paper, Degas worked on a wooden panel, a material more commonly used as a support for paint. The wood is streaked with layers of pastel and gouache (opaque watercolor), which together produce a refined satin finish; however, the wood grain of the panel remains visible and thus becomes part of the composition. Degas positions his dancers against what may be a stage backdrop showing a landscape with ancient ruins, likely the Athenian acropolis, as an allusion to a distant classical past.

Excerpt from

Heather MacDonald, DMA label copy, 2015.

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