This freely brushed drawing belongs to the stock of figure studies Degas executed in sepia wash on colored papers for his great rehearsal pictures of the mid-1870s. The dancers are posed to the left and right of the ballet master in The Dance Class (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), begun in 1873, and the one at right also appears, looking into a mirror, in The Met's version of 1874 (1987.47.1).
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Artist:Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Medium:Dark brown wash and white gouache on bright pink commercially coated wove paper, now faded to pale pink
Dimensions:24 1/8 x 15 1/2 in. (61.3 x 39.4 cm)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Degas
[Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Paris; possibly bought from the artist; probably sold to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (by 1922–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 185)
New York. Grolier Club. "Prints, Drawings and Bronzes by Degas," January 26–February 28, 1922, no. 90.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 162 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 134].
Washington. Phillips Memorial Gallery. "Loan Exhibition of Drawings & Pastels by Edgar Degas, 1834–1917," March 30–April 30, 1947, no. 6.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 25 (of works on paper).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 138.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A207.
Washington. Phillips Collection. "Degas's Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint," October 1, 2011–January 8, 2012, no. 8.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 185.
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 3, pp. 584–85, no. 1005, ill., dates it about 1889–95.
Lillian Browse. Degas Dancers. New York, , p. 347, pl. 33, calls it "Deux danseuses debout, vis à vis" and dates it about 1876.
Jean Sutherland Boggs. "Degas Notebooks at the Bibliothèque Nationale III: Group C (1863–1886)." Burlington Magazine 100 (July 1958), p. 245, records two studies for this picture in a notebook dated 1878–84 in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, pp. 133–34, no. 1061, ill., dates it 1889–95.
Charles S. Moffett. Degas: Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, p. 12, colorpl. 25, dates it about 1878–80 and states that the medium is "peinture à l'essence".
George T. M. Shackelford. Degas: The Dancers. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1984, p. 77, fig. 3.4, dates it about 1880 and suggests it may have been drawn from a single model.
Richard Thomson. The Private Degas. Exh. cat., Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. London, 1987, p. 113, fig. 148, dates it about 1876–78 and describes it as a figure seen in a reflection.
Gary Tinterow inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 243–44, no. 138, ill. (color), dates it 1873, placing it among the figure drawings Degas made for his rehearsal paintings of the mid-1870s; notes that these two figures appear to the left and right of the ballet master in "The Dance Class" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), the righthand figure looks into the mirror of the MMA version of "The Dance Class" (1987.47.1), and both figures appear on a fan (private collection, Paris); cites several pencil studies for the poses.
Michael Pantazzi inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, p. 349, compares it to the pose depicted in a later drawing of the same title (MMA 29.100.189).
Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge. Degas. New York, 1988, p. 277, ill. p. 177.
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, 337 n. 376.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 285.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 326–27, no. A207, ill.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 452, ill.
Eliza Rathbone inDegas's Dancers at The Barre: Point and Counterpoint. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection. Washington, 2011, pp. 28, 129, no. 8, ill. pp. 31, 101 (color, overall and detail).
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], calls it a preparatory study for the dancer adjusting her costume in "Rehearsal of the Ballet" (ca. 1876, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City), reversed in the Kansas City painting.
Both figures appear in The Dance Class (begun 1873, completed 1875–76; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; L341) and on a painted fan (1878–79; private collection, Paris). The figure on the right is included in The Met's version of The Dance Class (1874; 1987.47.1). Two pencil drawings for the figure on the left are reproduced as nos. 326 and 332 in the catalogue of the 2nd Degas sale (Tinterow 1988).
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