Dancers in the Rehearsal Room with a Double Bass, ca. 1882–85
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
Oil on canvas; 15 3/8 x 35 1/4 in. (39.1 x 89.5 cm)
Signed (lower left): Degas
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.127)
More than any other group of works in Degas's oeuvre, the frieze-format ballet rehearsals constitute a series. This painting is probably the second in more than forty such works. It was preceded by The Dance Lesson of 1879 (formerly Mellon collection; now National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), which shows a room with different details and a violin case instead of the contrabass. Otherwise, the essential features that characterize the series are present: the long wall that recedes precipitously back into space, providing a foil for one, two, or three principal figures in front; the pocket of space where the room widens, with two tall French windows illuminating a group of dancers limbering up before a rehearsal or cooling off afterward; the chair; and the bench, which was to become the locus for many of Degas's late images of dancers.