This work and its variant in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, represent the most ambitious paintings Degas devoted to the theme of the dance. Some twenty-four women, ballerinas and their mothers, wait while a dancer executes an "attitude" for her examination. Jules Perrot, a famous ballet master, conducts the class. The imaginary scene is set in a rehearsal room in the old Paris Opéra, which had recently burned to the ground. On the wall beside the mirror, a poster for Rossini’s Guillaume Tell pays tribute to the singer Jean-Baptiste Faure, who commissioned the picture and lent it to the 1876 Impressionist exhibition.
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Fig. 1. Edgar Degas, “La classe de danse," begun 1873, completed 1875–76, oil on canvas, 33 ½ x 29 ½ in. (Musée d’Orsay, Paris; RF1976)
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Fig. 2. Edgar Degas, “The Dancer Jules Perrot” (III:157.2), 1874, charcoal and black chalk heightened with white, 19 x 12 in. (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)
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Fig. 3. Edgar Degas, “Standing Dancer Seen From Behind,” ca. 1873, essence on pink paper, 15 ½ x 11 in. (Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre (Orsay), Paris; RF4038)
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Title:The Dance Class
Artist:Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:32 7/8 x 30 3/8 in. (83.5 x 77.2 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham, 1986
The Painting: In 1873, the great opera baritone Jean-Baptiste Faure commissioned from Degas a picture depicting ballerinas of the Opera ballet corps at an examination or dance class (Pantazzi 1988). (Faure became a major collector of Impressionist paintings and, eventually, the owner of the largest collection of Degas’s paintings in France.) The present work was delivered to Faure in November 1874, and Degas was paid five thousand francs for it. Faure lent it to the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876 under the title Examen de danse (Reff 1976; Clayson 1986).
At the right side of this nearly square canvas, though seemingly at the center of the room, stands the famed ballet master Jules Perrot (1810–1892), with both arms outstretched and hands resting on a long cane. With his face presented in profil perdu (literally, a lost profile, with the head at a three-quarter angle), Perrot looks to the dancer at center as she executes a piqué attitude, with her right arm raised high, left arm straight out to her side, and right leg bent toward her back. While the dancer in a pink sash practices this pose for Perrot, a flurry of activity surrounds these two central figures. A dancer in a blue sash practices before the mirror, while others at left and at rear look on, adjust their costumes, or await their turns, keeping their toes pointed and legs turned out all the while.
Degas purposefully integrates into the composition the casual posing of dancers at rest: the dancer with a pink choker who stands on the bleachers and leans against the wall; the girl to whom she looks, with legs turned out even while resting and adjusting her choker; and the two dancers sitting on the front step both practicing their pointed toes at rest—one with legs crossed, the other with legs spread in a makeshift plié.
Older women in frock coats and hats who serve as dancers’ chaperones sit on the bleachers at rear and observe the scene or chat. Hints of the world beyond the ballet also include the mirror view toward buildings with smokestacks in the distance and a poster on the wall for Gioachino Rossini’s (1792–1869) opera Guillaume Tell, a nod to Degas’s patron Faure, who had received many accolades when starring in the opera.
At left, a bass placed on the ground is radically cropped and placed at an acute angle to the left picture edge, much like the dancer cropped vertically to a mere third of a figure at far right, most probably compositional ideas suggested to Degas by Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. A musical score, left purposely illegible, rests on the music stand to the right of the piano. Any accompanist or accompanists have been cropped out of the image to focus on the activity among the dancers themselves. The red and pink carnations worn by a few of the ballerinas as well as the colored sashes and black-ribboned chokers with lockets are elements of their costumes that were not normally worn in practice rooms.
So is this a rehearsal, an examination, or a lesson? The title under which it was exhibited in 1876 indicates an examination by Perrot, while the costume elements point to what could be a last examination before a dress rehearsal (hence, the girls on the bleachers, and possibly one at far left, who fuss with their newly-issued lockets). While one writer argued that Degas knew the examinations took place on the stage and the artist would not have taken liberties at this early date (Browse 1949), another scholar (Herbert 1988) has called this image a "pure invention," rather than a scene that the artist copied. It is perhaps for this very reason that it is difficult to assign the precise nature of this grouping of ballerinas and teacher.
Degas’s fellow painter and great friend Mary Cassatt described this work as "more beautiful than any Ver Meer [sic] I ever saw" (quoted in Weitzenhoffer 1986). Her comparison of the painting to a Dutch seventeenth-century precedent is much like contemporary comparisons of Degas’s Portraits in an Office (New Orleans) (1873; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau) to the works of Vermeer and early Flemish painters (discussed in Pantazzi 1988 and Marilyn R. Brown, Degas and the Business of Art: A Cotton Office in New Orleans, University Park, PA, 1994, pp. 4–5, 76). When The Met’s picture was on view at the second Impressionist exhibition with the Pau picture, the latter received much more attention.
The Paris Opera Ballet: From early on, Degas attended operas and ballets in Paris and had begun to sketch from these performances by 1860. In the first half of the 1870s, he was spending a great deal of time with the Paris Opera Ballet, observing ballet classes and rehearsals taking place in the classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and on stage. The first location for these observations and sketches was the opera house on the rue le Pelletier; after the Salle Le Pelletier burned to the ground in a fire from unknown causes in 1873, the practice site shifted temporarily to the Salle Ventadour until Charles Garnier’s new opera house was completed and inaugurated in January 1875. The scene in this picture takes place in the first opera house, despite its demise by 1874; the room has been tentatively identified as one of the rooms in the dormer story of the building (DeVonyar and Kendall 2002).
The Opera’s ballet corps was an internationally renowned, permanent ballet company of two hundred performers. This national ballet troupe often appeared with the national opera in the same productions. The ballet master Jules Perrot had a long career with the Opera ballet as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer, beginning as a dancer at age twenty in 1830. After his contract as a dancer with the troupe was not renewed in 1835, Perrot performed and staged ballets throughout Europe and served as ballet master at the Imperial theaters in Saint Petersburg from 1849 to 1860, before returning to Paris in 1861. By 1874, at age sixty-four, he was a retired ballet master teaching frequent classes at the Opera in his later years.
In his scores of paintings, drawings, and prints of scenes at the ballet, Degas never depicted male dancers. His interest in the ballet rats (literally, "rats," as they were called)—the young girls who, often, were taken from the lower classes and transformed through the regimen of repetitive learned motions of the ballet corps into disciplined "higher-order" ballet "machines"—has been related to his interest in the telling details of habitual gestures and body movements as revelatory of a person’s origins or social class (Kirk Varnedoe, A Fine Disregard: What Makes Modern Art Modern, New York, 1990, pp. 116–18, 123; see also Douglas W. Druick and Peter Zegers in Degas. exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 205–11). Girls as young as fourteen years old were a part of the ballet corps, and Degas explored their transformations and what he might have termed telltale physiognomies in sculpture as well (see The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer [The Met, 29.100.370] and Study in the Nude for The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer [The Met, 29.100.373]). The opera house was, of course, a place, too, where an artist could sit undisturbed and surreptitiously observe and sketch bodies in motion without the somewhat stilted quality of the traditional relationship of model and painter in the studio.
Studies for the Painting and Its Near-Double: X-radiographs of the painting reveal several revisions, including changes in the size of the mirror, the placement of the central dancer, the head and feet positions of the dancer at front left, and the addition of the second dancer from left (seen in profile and mostly obstructed from view) (Tinterow 1987). Degas began an earlier version of this subject in the same format in late 1873, La classe de danse (Musée d’Orsay, Paris; see fig. 1 above). While intending it for Faure, the painter abandoned it temporarily after several revisions and turned to The Met’s picture in autumn of 1874 (Pantazzi 1988). Variously called a variation of the Orsay picture (Meier-Graefe 1920, Pickvance 1963), a replica of it or a replica with variations (Lemoisne 1946–49, Jamot 1924), and even "possibly a better version" of the Orsay picture (Manson 1927), The Met’s picture differs from the Orsay version in that whereas our picture includes a mirror reflecting the city outside and the dancers on the bleachers within, the long wall in the green room in the Orsay picture is divided by an ornately decorated wide doorway leading to another room with a window visible. The Orsay version’s long wall is punctuated by what appear to be malachite pilasters whereas this wall, in The Met’s picture, is bare of decoration save the framed poster, the mirror, and a small door also in green that has barely been defined. In addition, the bleachers at rear are less defined and less high, and a number of the dancers appear in different poses and with different colored sashes in the Orsay version (greens and yellows among them and fewer pastel tones). The visiting chaperones have been banished from the scene in the Paris picture, while Perrot appears almost identical in each. Most notably, the two dark-haired dancers with arms akimbo in the left foreground have been replaced in the Orsay version with one dancer who faces into the action, and thereby leads the viewer into the scene. Although begun before The Met painting, the Orsay picture was probably finished after it, in 1875–76 (Pantazzi 1988).
A charcoal drawing of Perrot (fig. 2) and two drawings of a dancer adjusting her strap (3rd Degas sale, no. 166.1; 4th Degas sale, no. 138a, private collection, New York) have been associated with The Met’s picture (Pantazzi 1988). In addition, The Met’s Two Dancers (29.100.187) and Seated Dancer (29.100.942), the Louvre’s Standing Dancer Seen from Behind (fig. 3), and Study of Legs (private collection, New York, reproduced in DeVonyar and Kendall 2002, p. 143, fig. 154) have all been linked to figures in it. An essence drawing of Perrot (Philadelphia Museum of Art), notably with the more pronounced wrinkles in his coat fabric also found in the Orsay picture, has been called a study for the revised Orsay version only (Pantazzi 1988). These studies provide proof of the artist’s working method and that his paintings were studied presentations of the ballet world, rather than spontaneous impressions.
Jane R. Becker 2016
Inscription: Signed (lower left): Degas
Jean-Baptiste Faure, Paris (1874–98; received from the artist in November 1874, for Fr 5,000; sold on February 19, 1898 for Fr 10,000 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1898; stock no. 4562, as "Le foyer de la danse"; transferred to Durand-Ruel, New York, March 16, 1898; stock no. 1977; sold April 4, 1898 for $25,000 to Payne]; Colonel Oliver H. Payne, New York (1898–d. 1917); his nephew, Harry Payne Bingham, New York (1917–d. 1955); his widow, Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham, New York (1955–d. 1986)
Paris. 11, rue Le Peletier. "2e exposition de peinture [2nd Impressionist exhibition]," April 1876, no. 37 (as "Examen de danse," lent by M. F...).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings," May 3–September 15, 1921, no. 27 (as "Le Foyer de la dance [sic]," lent by Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "New York Collects," July 3–September 2, 1968, no. 50 (as "Le Foyer de la danse," lent by Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Impressionist Epoch," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, no. 17 (as "The Dance Class," lent anonymously).
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Degas," February 9–May 16, 1988, no. 130.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Degas," June 16–August 28, 1988, no. 130.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 130.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no cat. number (fig. 59).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Degas and the Dance," October 20, 2002–January 12, 2003, unnumbered cat. (pl. 127).
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Degas and the Dance," February 12–May 11, 2003, unnumbered cat. (pl. 127).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making The Met, 1870–2020," August 29, 2020–January 3, 2021, unnumbered cat. (fig. 157).
Edgar Degas. Letter to Charles Deschamps. [November 1873–March 1874] [published in French and English in Reff 2020, letter no. 36], writes that he has not yet left for London because the painting for Faure is not yet completed, probably this painting (see Reff 2020).
Edgar Degas. Letter to Jean-Baptiste Faure. [early December 1873] [published in French and English in Reff 2020, letter no. 37], writes that he was looking forward to finishing Faure's painting, probably this picture.
Edgar Degas. Letter to Jean-Baptiste Faure. March 6, 74 [published in French and English in Reff 2020, letter no. 39], states that he has received five thousand francs from Faure for his painting "Examen de danse," probably The Met's picture.
Edgar Degas. Letter to Charles Deschamps. [November 9, 1874] [published in French and English in Reff 2020, letter no. 49], states that he freed himself from Faure "pour le grand seulement" (only with the large picture), probably The Met's picture (see Reff 2020).
Ph[ilippe]. Burty. "Fine Art: The Exhibition of the 'Intransigeants'." Academy (April 15, 1876), pp. 363–64 [reprinted in Ref. Berson 1996, vol. 1, p. 65], mentions "the green-room of the Opera" among pictures by Degas.
Pierre Dax. "Chronique." L'artiste 1 (May 1, 1876), pp. 347–49 [reprinted in Ref. Berson 1996, vol. 1, p. 70].
Georges Grappe. Edgar Degas. Berlin, , ill. p. 21, as "Le Foyer de la danse; Das Foyer der Tanzschule; The Dancer's Foyer".
P.-A Lemoisne. Degas. Paris, 1912, p. 60, dates it 1875 based on a drawing of the ballet master, whom he identifies as Plucque, dated the same year.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Degas. Munich, 1920, p. 41, pl. 16 [English ed., 1923, p. 56, pl. XVI], as "La Classe de danse"; dates it 1872–73 and calls it a variation of the picture in the Musée d'Orsay (L341), claiming that both pictures support "the mischievous idea that Degas wanted to be a kind of Meissonier"; identifies the ballet master as Moraine.
Royal Cortissoz. "Modern Unrest in French Art: Some Leading Types Shown At the Metropolitan." New York Tribune (May 8, 1921), p. 7, ill.
Paul Jamot. Degas. Paris, 1924, p. 144, pl. 40, dates it about 1875 and calls it a replica with variations of the Orsay picture.
Ambroise Vollard. Degas (1834–1917). Paris, 1924, ill. opp. p. 96, as "La répétition au foyer de la danse".
J. B. Manson. The Life and Work of Edgar Degas. London, 1927, p. 21, calls it "possibly a better" version of the Orsay picture.
Marcel Guérin, ed. Lettres de Degas. Paris, 1931, p. 16 n. 1 [English ed., New York, (1948), p. 261], states that in 1872 Faure commissioned this work from Degas, who delivered it in 1874 and received in payment Fr 5,000.
Marguerite Rebatet. Degas. Paris, 1944, pl. 77, dates it about 1874–76 and erroneously locates it at the MMA.
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 1, pp. 92, 99, 102; vol. 2, pp. 180, 194, 214–15, no. 397, ill., calls it "Examen de danse (Classe de danse)" and dates it about 1876; identifies the setting as possibly the Salle Ventadour; notes that Faure paid Fr 5,000 for this picture in 1874; calls it a replica of the Orsay picture (L341); mentions the two studies for the ballet master in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (L364) and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
John Rewald. "The Realism of Degas." Magazine of Art 39 (January 1946), p. 13, ill., dates it about 1872.
Lillian Browse. Degas Dancers. New York, , pp. 53–54, 341, 343, pl. 23, calls it "La Classe de danse de M. Perrot" and dates it about 1874–76; remarks that the figure of a seated dancer also appears in a drawing, though with the arms and head placed differently (about 1873; MMA 29.100.942); doubts that this picture was the "Examen de danse" lent by Faure to the 2nd Impressionist exhibition, arguing that Degas knew the examinations took place on the stage of the Opera, and would not have taken liberties at this early date.
Pierre Cabanne. Edgar Degas. Paris, , pp. 98, 108–9, under no. 36 [English ed., 1958], dates it about 1876 on p. 108 and 1876 on p. 109.
Jakob Rosenberg. Great Draughtsmen from Pisanello to Picasso. Cambridge, Mass., 1959, p. 113, dates it 1876.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, pp. 33, 263–64, 289, describes how Mr. Havemeyer encouraged Colonel Payne to buy this picture rather than purchase it for himself, and later remarked to her "If ever you have a chance, get that picture back. The Colonel does not care for it and would rather buy one of the English school".
Ronald Pickvance. "Degas's Dancers: 1872–6." Burlington Magazine 105 (June 1963), p. 259 nn. 35, 38, p. 264, calls it "L'Examen de danse," dates it 1873–74, and calls it a compositional variant of the Orsay picture.
Lillian Browse. "Degas's Grand Passion." Apollo 85 (February 1967), p. 109, fig. 5, calls it "La Classe de danse de M. Perrot" and dates it about 1874–76.
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, p. 109, no. 488, ill., dates it about 1876.
Anthea Callen. "Jean-Baptiste Faure, 1830–1914: A Study of a Patron and Collector of the Impressionists and their Contemporaries." Master's thesis, University of Leicester, 1971, p. 161, no. 194, fig. 1, identifies it as number 54 in the first Impressionist exhibition.
Charles S. Moffett inImpressionism: A Centenary Exhibition. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1974, pp. 104–7, no. 17, ill. (color) [French ed., "Centenaire de l'impressionnisme," Éditions des musées nationaux, Paris], calls it "The Dance Class" and dates it 1875–76; believes that the changes between this picture and the earlier Orsay version were made to add greater subtlety and finesse to the composition.
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. 125 (notebook 26, p. 74), records a list of pictures made in preparation for the 2nd Impressionist exhibition that includes the notation "Danseuses Faure," a reference to this painting.
Roy McMullen. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston, 1984, p. 249, notes that Faure bought it for Fr 5,000 in 1874.
George T. M. Shackelford. Degas: The Dancers. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1984, pp. 52–53, 63 n. 19, fig. 2.8, calls it a reprise of the Orsay picture, in which Degas may have wished to "reassert the importance of a forward-facing dancer" who had been painted over in the earlier composition; remarks that ours is "almost certainly a later variant of the Paris version of the painting because it exhibits almost no pentimenti, whereas in the Paris version many of the figures have been moved or overpainted"; describes the final effect of our picture as "disturbingly unbalanced".
Ivor Guest. Jules Perrot: Master of the Romantic Ballet. New York, 1984, p. 335, dates it 1875.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 126–27, 130–31, 219, 222, colorpl. 79, calls it "The Dance Lesson" and dates it about 1874; quotes Mary Cassatt's opinion that this picture "is more beautiful than any Ver Meer I ever saw"; relates that Colonel Payne refused to lend this picture to Mrs. Havemeyer's April 1915 exhibition benefitting women's suffrage held at Knoedler.
Hollis Clayson inThe New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. Ed. Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. San Francisco, 1986, p. 161, identifies it as no. 37 in the 2nd Impressionist exhibition.
Gary Tinterow inRecent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1986–1987. New York, 1987, pp. 39–40, ill. (overall and color detail) and on cover (color), calls it "The Dance Class" and dates it 1873–74; states that Faure commissioned it in 1872 and that it was delivered to him in November 1874; asserts that although the "rushing perspective, nearly square format, and crowded composition" derive from "Portraits in an Office (New Orleans)" (Musée Municipal de Pau, France), Degas never surpassed this picture's complexity of figural arrangements and variety of poses; notes that radiographs reveal several revisions and that the drawings for this and the Orsay version provided a repertory of poses for his ballet pictures over the next decade.
John Russell. "Turkish and Other Delights." New York Times Magazine (August 30, 1987), pp. 71, 110, ill. (color).
Michael Pantazzi inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 221–23 n. 12, pp. 234, 236–37, 240, 242–44, 274, 325, no. 130, ill. (color), provides details of Faure's transactions with Degas, stating that he commissioned a picture of an examination or dance class in 1873; notes that Degas began the Orsay version in late 1873, intending it for Faure, but after many revisions temporarily abandoned it and painted our picture in 1874, delivering it to Faure by November of that year; considers the essence drawing of Perrot (Philadelphia Museum of Art) to be a study for the revised Orsay picture, which was finally completed in 1875–76; mentions the charcoal drawing of Perrot (Fitzwilliam Museum) and two drawings of dancers as studies for our picture (3rd Degas sale, no. 166.1; 4th Degas sale, no. 138a, private collection, New York).
Jean Sutherland Boggs inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 26, 32 n. 30, fig. 4 (color detail).
Barbara Scott. "The Triumph of Degas." Apollo 127 (April 1988), p. 283, calls it fresher and more luminous than the Orsay version.
Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge. Degas. New York, 1988, p. 273, ill. p. 62 (color).
Robert L. Herbert. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven, 1988, pp. 124, 127, colorpl. 129, dates it about 1876; calls both this and the Orsay version "pure inventions, not scenes that the artist somehow copied".
Michael Kimmelman. "New Metropolitan Galleries Open with Degas." New York Times (September 26, 1988), p. C19.
Gary Tinterow and Anne Norton. "Degas aux expositions impressionnistes." Degas inédit: Actes du Colloque Degas. Paris, 1989, pp. 291, 297, identify it as no. 37 in the 2nd Impressionist exhibition.
Richard Thomson. "The Degas Exhibition in Ottawa and New York." Burlington Magazine 131 (April 1989), pp. 293–94.
Anne Distel. Impressionism: The First Collectors. New York, 1990, p. 89, colorpl. 72.
Henri Loyrette. Degas. Paris, 1991, pp. 362, 742 n. 192.
Carol Armstrong. Odd Man Out: Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas. Chicago, 1991, pp. 54, 131–32, fig. 23.
Everett Fahy. "Selected Acquisitions of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987–1991." Burlington Magazine 133 (November 1991), pp. 801, 808, colorpl. XIII.
Linda Nochlin. "A House is not a Home: Degas and the Subversion of the Family." Dealing with Degas: Representations of Women and the Politics of Vision. Ed. Richard Kendall and Griselda Pollock. London, 1992, p. 57, claims that the inclusion of stage mothers in the background of works like this one may imply procuration, not chaperonage.
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. 33, 263–64, 289, 313 n. 68, p. 339 n. 395, p. 344 n. 456, states that Payne bought this picture for $25,000 from Durand-Ruel.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 223, fig. 59, notes that Durand-Ruel first recommended this picture for purchase to the Havemeyers.
Rebecca A. Rabinow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 89, 91, states that Payne would not lend to Mrs. Havemeyer's 1915 exhibition because of his antisuffrage position.
Henri Loyrette. Degas: The Man and His Art. New York, 1993, pp. 81–83, 86, ill. (color).
Marilyn R. Brown. Degas and the Business of Art: A Cotton Office in New Orleans. University Park, Pa., 1994, pp. 105, 126.
Richard Thomson. Edgar Degas: Waiting. Malibu, 1995, pp. 40, 94 n. 84, cites this painting as an early example of the appearance of older women waiting for their charges in the dancing classes depicted by Degas, arguing that their presence does not imply impropriety [see Ref. Nochlin 1992].
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 452, ill. p. 453.
Ruth Berson, ed. "Documentation: Volume I, Reviews and Volume II, Exhibited Works." The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. San Francisco, 1996, vol. 1, p. 70; vol. 2, p. 34, no. II-37, ill. p. 48, identifies it as no. 37 in the 2nd Impressionist exhibition.
Lillian Schacherl. Edgar Degas: Dancers and Nudes. Munich, 1997, p. 18.
Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Modern Art Comes to the Metropolitan: The 1921 Exhibition of 'Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings'." Apollo 152 (October 2000), pp. 6, 10, 12, fig. 10 (color).
Richard Shone. The Janice H. Levin Collection of French Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, p. 39.
Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall. Degas and the Dance. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 2002, pp. 54, 79, 107, 119, 129, 141, 143, 202–3, 211, 289, colorpl. 127, tentatively identify the setting as one of the rooms in the dormer story, on the eastern side of the courtyard of the opera house.
Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall inMaster Drawings, 1700–1900. Exh. cat., Brady, W. M. and Co., Inc. New York, 2002, unpaginated, under no. 32, fig. 10 (color detail), relate a sketch of dancer's feet (IV: 138a) to figures in this picture.
John Richardson. "Degas and the Dancers." Vanity Fair (October 2002), pp. 334–35, ill. (color).
Stephen May. "Shadows Behind the Curtain." Art & Antiques 26 (June 2003), p. 74, ill.
Maria Teresa Benedetti inDegas: Classico e moderno. Ed. Maria Teresa Benedetti. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2004, p. 264.
Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. Nineteenth-Century European Art. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2006, pp. 399–401, fig. 16-32 (color).
Art impressionniste et moderne dont un ensemble d'oeuvres provenant de l'atelier Degas. Christie's, Paris. May 24, 2006, p. 50, under no. 27, states that a period photograph of The Met's picture must have been made between fall 1874, when the artist was known to have been working on the picture, and fall 1875, when the delivery to Faure is stated to have occurred (but see Guérin 1931).
Alastair Macaulay. "Degas's Ballet Students Teach the Lessons of Their Art." New York Times (September 3, 2008), pp. E1, E5, ill. (color).
Jane Kinsman. Degas: The Uncontested Master. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Australia. Canberra, 2008, p. 128 n. 2, p. 130.
Michael Pantazzi in Jane Kinsman. Degas: The Uncontested Master. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Australia. Canberra, 2008, p. 248.
Colin B. Bailey inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 28, 31 n. 4.
Elizabeth Cowling in Elizabeth Cowling and Richard Kendall. Picasso Looks at Degas. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2010, p. 317 n. 98.
Richard Kendall and Jill DeVonyar. Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 2011, p. 257, state that René De Gas photographed the painting in 1874–75 on the basis of Christie's 2006, which states only that in the early 1870s René had his brother's paintings photographed as soon as they were finished and does not clearly specify that the period photograph of The Met's painting was among that group.
Christian Berger. Wiederholung und Experiment bei Edgar Degas. Berlin, 2014, p. 153 n. 80.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 442, no. 374, ill. pp. 380, 442 (color).
Jill DeVonyar in Jane Munro. Degas: A Passion for Perfection. Exh. cat., Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. New Haven, 2017, pp. 164, 171, 175, 235 n. 28, fig. 176 (color).
Richard Brilliant inBoldini e la moda. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti. Ferrara, 2019, p. 237, fig. 49 (color).
Henri Loyrette inDegas à l'Opéra. Ed. Henri Loyrette. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2019, pp. 135, 214–15, 229, fig. 244 (color) [English ed., London, 2020].
Leïla Jarbouai inDegas à l'Opéra. Ed. Henri Loyrette. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2019, p. 50 [English ed., London, 2020].
"Works in the Exhibition." Making The Met, 1870–2020. Ed. Andrea Bayer and Laura D. Corey. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2020, p. 252.
Laura D. Corey and Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen. "Visions of Collecting." Making The Met, 1870–2020. Ed. Andrea Bayer with Laura D. Corey. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2020, pp. 147, 266 nn. 76, 78, fig. 157 (color).
Theodore Reff, ed. The Letters of Edgar Degas.. By Edgar Degas. New York, 2020, vol. 1, pp. 184–86 n. 2 (under letter no. 36), n. 3 (under letter no. 37), n. 1 (under letter no. 39), p. 199 n. 3, p. 205 n. 5, p. 232 n. 2 (under letter no. 83), pp. 279–80 n. 4 (under letter no. 138); vol. 3, pp. 31–32, 36, 61, 332, letter nos. 36–37, 39, 49, 138, states that Faure commissioned The Met's painting in late October or early November 1873 and acquired it the following March; identifies Degas's presumed destroyed letter of March 6, 1874, as a receipt for The Met's picture; follows Callen 1971 in identifying it as no. 54 in the first Impressionist exhibition and notes that two contemporary reviews specifically mentioned it; disagrees with Pantazzi's 1988 statement that the artist did not begin work on this version until he had painted and set aside the Orsay version; suggests a date for the painting of 1873–74; associates The Met's picture with the largest of the six paintings Faure commissioned in 1873–74, which Degas (November 9, 1874) had cited as his means to disengage from Faure; notes that Degas had not observed an actual dance examination until 1880.
Colin B. Bailey. "A Compulsive Perfectionist." New York Review of Books 19 (April 7, 2022), p. 21.
A period photograph of the painting by an unidentified photographer was found in the artist's atelier at his death and stayed in the collection of the Degas family until its appearance as number 27 in a sale at Christie's, Paris, on May 24, 2006.
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