Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Two Studies of Dancers, ca. 1873
Black chalk, heightened with white chalk, on green paper
17 1/2 x 11 5/16 inches (445 x 286 mm)
Thaw Collection, The Morgan Library & Museum; EVT 273
The principal figure on this sheet appears in two versions of the painting The Rehearsal (Harvard University Art Museums and Shelburne Museum, Vermont). The secondary figure on the sheet, with her hands adjusting the ties on her skirt, was used for the Harvard canvas only.
Degas often made multiple studies on a page, in this case turning the sheet ninety degrees to produce a separate study. He selected vividly colored papers for studies in black and white chalks. The middle tone of the paper allowed him to maximize their tonal range. The summary description of the faces reveals the artist's greater interest in determining how light from the rehearsal studio windows would illumine the figures.