Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Dancer with Arms Outstretched, ca. 1878
Black and white chalk, on tan paper; squared for transfer in black chalk
Inscribed by the artist below the left arm, reflets sur le bras
9 1/4 x 13 1/8 inches (227 x 321 mm)
Thaw Collection,The Morgan Library & Museum; EVT 278
By the late 1870s, Degas had become increasingly absorbed by the behind-the-scenes activities at the ballet. This study of a dancer in second position is for a ballerina in The Rehearsal (1878–79; Frick Collection, New York), which shows dancers practicing with a violinist in the rehearsal studio. Both the Frick painting and the present drawing were in the collection of Degas' lifelong friend, the industrialist and Impressionist supporter Henri Rouart (1833–1912).
Degas' note about the reflections on the dancer's arm attests to his focus on how light defines the girl's body; the squared grid indicates that Degas transferred the figure to another support while working on his canvas.