Edgar Degas

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Edgar Degas
Two Studies of a Ballet Dancer
Brush and brown ink, with opaque white watercolor, on pink paper (altered color); ruled line in black chalk at left partially erased by white chalk.
16 1/16 x 11 1/16 inches (409 x 282 mm); frame: 25 x 18 3/4 x 1 5/8 inches
Bequest of John S. Thacher.

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Degas' studies of dancers--in rehearsal, on stage, and at rest--began during the 1870s and intensified over the ensuing decades. This period also marked the beginning of his artistic success: in 1872 the Paris dealer Paul Durand-Ruel bought three of his paintings. Preferring to record his observations in a fluid medium, Degas used a brush and ink to lightly outline the figures with quick, fragmented strokes. In the upper study, the dancer uses a pillar for support as she practices standing en pointe. The artist worked to resolve the position of her torso and arms and the contours of her body. This study served as the basis for the central figure in Rehearsal in the Studio, now in the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. --Exhibition Label, from “Degas: Drawings and Sketchbooks”


Watermark: none visible through lining.
Stamped in red ink at lower right corner, "Degas"; inscribed in black chalk at upper right, now erased, "[a.g.?]".

The artist's atelier (Lugt 658); his sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 7-9 April 1919, lot 132, repr.; Marcel Guérin, Paris; John S. Thacher, Washington, D.C.
Associated names: 

Guérin, Marcel, 1873-1948, former owner.
Thacher, John S., former owner.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 332-333.

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