Of the two versions of this composition in the Museum’s collection, this one is more freely executed, indicating that it was probably made second. Several of the figures in this pastel differ from those in The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage (29.160.26), including the dancer seen from behind on the far left, fingering her bracelet. Both works were executed over an ink drawing on paper, an unusual practice for Degas.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:The Rehearsal Onstage
Artist:Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Medium:Pastel over brush-and-ink drawing on thin cream-colored wove paper, laid down on bristol board and mounted on canvas
Dimensions:21 x 28 1/2 in. (53.3 x 72.4 cm)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Inscription: Signed (upper left): Degas
Ernest May, Paris (possibly by 1879, definitely by 1890; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 4, 1890, no. 75, bought in); his son, Georges May, Paris (until 1899; sold on January 25, 1899, for Fr 47,000 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1899; stock no. 4990; sold on January 26, 1899, to Durand-Ruel, New York]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1899; stock no. 2117; sold on February 17, 1899, for Fr 48,197 to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1899–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 124–25, ill.)
Paris. 28, avenue de l'Opéra. "4me exposition de peinture [4th Impressionist exhibition]," April 10–May 11, 1879, no. 65 (as "École de danse [Détrempe]," lent by M. E. M., possibly this picture).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Old and Modern Painters," April 6–24, 1915, possibly no. 38 (as "The Ballet Rehearsal").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 143 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 123].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 147.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 18 (of works on paper).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 125.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A211.
LOAN OF THIS WORK IS RESTRICTED.
Edgar Degas. Letter to Charles Deschamps. early 1874 [published in French and English in Reff 2020, letter no. 38], writes that he has reworked a variation of one of the two paintings where a bench is cut off in the foreground; calls the picture "le meilleur des deux" (the better of the two), probably this picture (see Reff 2020).
Armand Silvestre. "Le Monde des Arts." La Vie Moderne 1 (April 24, 1879), p. 38 [reprinted in Ref. Berson 1996, p. 240], describes no. 65 in the 1879 Impressionist exhibition as a ballet rehearsal in a theater [probably this picture].
Gustave Geffroy. "Degas." L'art et les artistes 7 (April–September 1908), p. 20, ill. p. 18, dates it 1874.
George Moore. "Degas." Kunst und Künstler 6 (1908), ill. p. 141, as "Ballettprobe".
Paul Lafond. Degas. Vol. 2, Paris, 1919, p. 26, dates it 1874.
Paul Jamot. Degas. Paris, 1924, pp. 142–43, pl. 36, confuses it with the oil version (MMA 29.160.26).
Arsène Alexandre. "La collection Havemeyer, 2e Étude: Degas." La Renaissance 12 (October 1929), p. 483, ill. p. 479.
Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 55.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 124, ill. p. 125.
Louise Burroughs. "Degas in the Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (May 1932), p. 144, compares this picture with the oil version (MMA 29.100.26), calling the pastel "perhaps the more successful of the two".
Georges Rivière. Mr. Degas: Bourgeois de Paris. Paris, 1935, ill. p. 133, dates it 1874.
Arsène Alexandre. "Degas: Nouveaux aperçus." L'art et les artistes, n.s., 29 (February 1935), p. 161, ill. p. 164, dates it 1874.
Camille Mauclair. Degas. London, , p. 167, pl. 127, dates it about 1874.
Marguerite Rebatet. Degas. Paris, 1944, pl. 75, dates it 1874–75.
Hans Huth. "Impressionism Comes to America." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 29 (April 1946), p. 239 n. 22, suggests erroneously that it was exhibited in 1886 in New York at the American Art Association and the National Academy of Design.
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 1, p. 92; vol. 2, p. 276, no. 498, ill. p. 277, dates it about 1878–79.
Louise Burroughs. "Notes." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (January 1946), unpaginated.
Fiske Kimball and Lionello Venturi. Great Paintings in America. New York, 1948, p. 182 under no. 84.
Lillian Browse. Degas Dancers. New York, , pp. 55–56, 67, 338, 344–46, pl. 31, dates it about 1876–77; suggests it was probably shown in the 1877 Impressionist exhibition as no. 61 [see MMA 29.160.26]; claims this is likely the latest of the multiple versions Degas created of this scene, citing the free handling and simplified subject; attempts to identify the specific people, ballet, and location in the picture, suggesting that the ballet master is Eugène Coralli, who worked with the Paris Opéra and that the stage is that of the opera house on Rue Le Peletier, which burned down in October 1873.
Daniel Catton Rich. Edgar-Hilaire-Germain Degas. New York, 1951, p. 84, ill. p. 85 (color).
Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 233, no. 147, colorpl. 147, dates it probably 1878 or 1879.
Robert Rey. Degas. Paris, 1952, pl. 43, dates it about 1878.
Pierre Cabanne. Edgar Degas. Paris, , p. 108, under no. 36, p. 113, under no. 66 [English ed., 1958, p. 109, under no. 36, p. 113, under no. 66].
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, pp. 259–60.
Ronald Pickvance. "Degas's Dancers: 1872–6." Burlington Magazine 105 (June 1963), p. 263, proposes that this picture was begun as a copy in ink of the oil version (MMA 29.160.26), the latter rejected for submission to the "Illustrated London News" in 1873; dates this picture 1874, noting that Degas was unlikely to let the ink sketch sit for several years before painting over it with pastel since he was not known to return to earlier work very often in the 1870s; observes minor modifications with the addition of pastel, resulting in a "more angular and decorative rhythm"; considers this the latest of the three versions, with the oil version first (1873), followed by the grisaille (before April 1874; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Jean Bouret. Degas. New York, 1965, p. 84, ill. p. 82 (color).
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 73–74, 76–77, ill., accept Pickvance's date of 1873–74 for all three versions [see Ref. Pickvance 1963]; claim that the "pastel is the most developed and impressive of the three treatments of the theme".
Alfred Werner. Degas Pastels. New York, 1968, p. 26, colorpl. 4, dates it about 1873 and calls it "the most developed and, probably, the most satisfactory of the three pictures"; notes that Degas recreated much of this scene in his studio and used the same model repeatedly to depict the different dancers.
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, pp. 108–9, no. 469, ill., dates it 1873–74.
Theodore Reff. "The Technical Aspects of Degas's Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal 4 (1971), p. 144, fig. 2 (detail), notes that Degas's early pastels, such as this one, are more highly finished and similar to 18th-century pastel traditions.
Theodore Reff. Degas, The Artist's Mind. [New York], 1976, pp. 274, 336–37 n. 19, fig. 185 (detail), dates it 1872–74 [reprints Ref. Reff 1971].
Theodore Reff. The Notebooks of Edgar Degas: A Catalogue of the Thirty-Eight Notebooks in the Bibliothèque Nationale and Other Collections. Oxford, 1976, vol. 1, p. 115 (notebook 22, p. 203).
Charles S. Moffett. Degas: Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, p. 12, colorpl. 19, dates it 1873–74.
Eugénie de Keyser. Degas: Réalité et métaphore. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1981, pp. 64, 95, fig. 26, dates it 1873–74.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. "The Creation of the Havemeyer Collection, 1875–1900." PhD diss., City University of New York, 1982, pp. 303–305, 317 nn. 43, 44, fig. 115.
Roy McMullen. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston, 1984, pp. 218, 229.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, p. 71, dates it 1873–74, after the oil (MMA 29.160.26) and before the Musée d'Orsay version.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 133–34, 255, pl. 93 and ill. p. 224 (installation photograph of Exh. New York 1915), dates it about 1872.
Ronald Pickvance inThe New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. Ed. Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. San Francisco, 1986, pp. 264–65 n. 87, suggests this picture was shown "hors catalogue" in the 1879 Impressionist exhibition, citing the description of a theater rehearsal under artificial light in Ref. Silvestre 1879, which does not fit any of the other pictures known to have been exhibited, and noting that Ernest May lent another picture to the exhibition [see Ref. Berson 1996].
Dennis Farr and John House inImpressionist & Post-Impressionist Masterpieces: The Courtauld Collection. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. New Haven, 1987, unpaginated, under no. 8.
Alexandra R. Murphy in Rafael Fernandez and Alexandra R. Murphy. Degas in the Clark Collection. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 1987, p. 11, fig. F, dates it about 1878.
Gary Tinterow inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, p. 476.
Michael Pantazzi inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 225–32, 317, no. 125, ill. (color), suggests a new sequence for the three versions: 1. the ink drawing underlying this pastel, 2. the ink drawing underlying the oil, 3. the Orsay grisaille, 1873–74, 4. the final MMA oil, perhaps 1874, and 5. this pastel, perhaps 1874; reports that in both MMA pictures, certain areas in color were redrawn again in ink, a method of reworking that "appears to be unique in Degas's work"; mentions that this picture may be the pastel that Gauguin wished to buy in 1879, but that had already been sold to Ernest May, and notes that Gauguin incorporated elements from it in a carved box (1884; private collection).
Richard Thomson. "The Degas Exhibition at the Grand Palais." Burlington Magazine 130 (April 1988), pp. 296, 298.
Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge. Degas. New York, 1988, pp. 9, 177, 272, ill. p. 42 (color).
Mari Kálmán Meller. "Exercises in and around Degas's Classrooms: Part I." Burlington Magazine 130 (March 1988), pp. 212–15, fig. 30, dates it 1873–74 and considers it the second of the three versions; discusses the evolution of the MMA compositions from the painting "Orchestra of the Opéra" (Musée d'Orsay); calls the style of the MMA versions "pell-mell, deliberately anarchic" that is transformed to "a pedantic manner" in the grisaille; compares the group of figures at the left to similar groupings in the "Young Spartans" (1860; National Gallery, London) and "Four Dancers" (about 1899; National Gallery of Art, Washington).
Ettore Camesasca. The São Paulo Collection: From Manet to Matisse. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam. Milan, 1989, p. 80, ill. p. 82.
Gary Tinterow and Anne Norton. "Degas aux expositions impressionnistes." Degas inédit: Actes du Colloque Degas. Paris, 1989, p. 320, fig. 11, identify it as no. 66 in the 1879 Impressionist exhibition [see Ref. Berson 1996].
Françoise Cachin. "Degas et Gauguin." Degas inédit: Actes du Colloque Degas. Paris, 1989, pp. 115, 126 n. 3, identifies it as the pastel Gauguin had wanted, but that had already been purchased by May.
Richard Thomson. "The Degas Exhibition in Ottawa and New York." Burlington Magazine 131 (April 1989), pp. 293–94.
Henri Loyrette. Degas. Paris, 1991, p. 612.
Carol Armstrong. Odd Man Out: Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas. Chicago, 1991, pp. 10, 50, 60, 131, fig. 6, dates it 1878–79; discusses the "obsessive quality" of Degas's repetitions in the three versions of this picture.
Jean Sutherland Boggs and Anne Maheux. Degas Pastels. New York, 1992, pp. 54, 171, 181, no. 8, ill. p. 55 (color), identify it as no. 66 in the 1879 Impressionist exhibition [see Ref. Berson 1996].
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 257, 259–60, 337 n. 376, pp. 338–39 n. 387.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 225, 285.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, colorpl. 42.
Rebecca A. Rabinow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 95, fig. 12 (installation photograph of Exh. New York 1915), identifies it as possibly no. 38 in Exh. New York 1915.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 328, no. A211, ill.
Albert Kostenevich. Hidden Treasures Revealed: Impressionist Masterpieces and Other Important French Paintings Preserved by the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Exh. cat.New York, 1995, pp. 64–65, ill., suggests that "The Dancer" (about 1874; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg) is related to this picture.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 452, ill.
Ruth Berson, ed. "Documentation: Volume I, Reviews and Volume II, Exhibited Works." The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. San Francisco, 1996, vol. 2, p. 110, no. IV-65, ill., identifies this picture as no. 65 in the 1879 Impressionist exhibition based on Ref Silvestre 1879; surmises that Degas originally intended to show "The Dance Class" (1873–79; Shelburne Museum, Vermont) under no. 65 but substituted the MMA picture instead, adding the Shelburne picture "hors catalogue" later, as described in a second review by Silvestre.
Françoise Cachin inThe Private Collection of Edgar Degas. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, pp. 221–22, 232 n. 4, fig. 301, remarks that Gauguin certainly copied this pastel in now lost sketches as well as in his carved box with ballerina motifs (private collection); calls this box "the first manifestation of a phenomenon that would recur at every decisive stage in Gauguin's career: whenever he took a new direction, the influence of Degas... was never far away"
Richard Kendall. Degas and the Little Dancer. Exh. cat., Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha. New Haven, 1998, pp. 6, 177 nn. 14, 16.
Rebecca A. Rabinow inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, pp. 38–39, fig. 7 (color).
William H. Gerdts. American Impressionism. 2nd ed. New York, 2001, fig. 23 (color), dates it about 1874–78.
Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall. Degas and the Dance. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 2002, pp. 58, 60–61, 71, 143, 159–60, 201–2, colorpl. 176, date it 1874(?), suggesting that Degas began the three pictures before the October 1873 fire at the Opéra, perhaps in the summer since the resting dancers do not wear shawls, or that he rapidly painted them from memory within months; note that the artist's viewpoint is from the first-level balcony to the left of the stage, a primary location "traditionally reserved... for the emperor or for leading dignitaries"; propose that the dance being rehearsed is the divertissement, "Ballet des Roses," from the opera "Don Juan".
Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall inMaster Drawings, 1700–1900. Exh. cat., Brady, W. M. and Co., Inc. New York, 2002, unpaginated, under no. 32.
Gioia Mori inDegas: Classico e moderno. Ed. Maria Teresa Benedetti. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2004, pp. 69, 106 n. 31, fig. 13.
Gary Tinterow and Asher Ethan Miller inThe Wrightsman Pictures. Ed. Everett Fahy. New York, 2005, pp. 402, 404 n. 3.
Richard Thomson in Anna Gruetzner Robins and Richard Thomson. Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec: London and Paris, 1870–1910. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2005, fig. 11 (color).
Hugues Wilhelm inWomen in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Ed. Sidsel Maria Søndergaard. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, p. 297.
Jill DeVonyar in Annette Dixon. The Dancer: Degas, Forain, Toulouse-Lautrec. Exh. cat., Portland Art Museum. Portland, Oreg., 2008, p. 233 n. 44.
Roberta Crisci-Richardson. Mapping Degas: Real Spaces, Symbolic Spaces and Invented Spaces in the Life and Work of Edgar Degas (1834–1917). Newcastle upon Tyne, 2015, p. 238.
Lelia Packer Jennifer Sliwka. Monochrome: Painting in Black and White. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2017, pp. 96, 217 n. 31, state that it is likely that the grisaille version was produced first, followed by "The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage" (ca. 1874, The Met, 29.160.26), then this version.
Ruth E. Iskin inMonographic Exhibitions and the History of Art. Ed. Maia Wellington Gahtan and Donatella Pegazzano. New York, 2018, fig. 2.1 (installation photo of New York 1915).
Henri Loyrette inDegas à l'Opéra. Ed. Henri Loyrette. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2019, pp. 202, 205, 238, fig. 251 (color) [English ed., London, 2020], as "Ballet Rehearsal on Stage"; dates it 1874.
Leïla Jarbouai inDegas à l'Opéra. Ed. Henri Loyrette. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2019, p. 271 [English ed., London, 2020], as "Ballet Rehearsal on Stage".
Kimberly A. Jones inDegas à l'Opéra. Ed. Henri Loyrette. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2019, pp. 169, 178, 219 [English ed., London, 2020], as "Ballet Rehearsal on Stage".
Theodore Reff, ed. The Letters of Edgar Degas.. By Edgar Degas. New York, 2020, vol. 1, p. 186 n. 3; vol. 3, p. 347, states that it is probably the painting referred to in Degas's letter to Charles Deschamps of early 1874.
Aimee Marcereau DeGalan inFrench Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan. Kansas City, 2021, unpaginated [https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.614.5407], compares it to "Rehearsal of the Ballet" (ca. 1876, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City).
This is one of three versions of this composition by Degas. For other versions and related works, see the Catalogue Entry for 29.160.26.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.