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Edgar Degas, Dancer with a Bouquet, ca. 1877-1880, Gift of Mrs. Murray S. Danforth

Edgar Degas

Dancer with a Bouquet

Edgar Degas French, 1834-1917
Dancer with a Bouquet, ca. 1877-1880
Pastel and gouache over monotype on paper
40.3 x 50.5 cm (15 7/8 x 19 7/8 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Murray S. Danforth 42.213

In this investigation of light, form, and movement, footlights set aglow a young dancer with a bouquet at center stage. Behind her stand two groups of ballerinas, who are depicted with lengthy passages of bright orange, blue, and green pastel punctuated by the occasional dot of a bright flower. As a foil to these brilliant colors, Degas bathed the immediate foreground—-a balcony with spectator—-in shadowy brown and black gouache. The spectator’s blue earring relates the foreground to the vibrantly hued passages of the stage. Degas began this composition with a monotype and then covered it with pastel. He affixed a strip of paper at the sheet’s lower edge in order to add the figure and her dramatic fan, which leaves one to wonder if they were compositional afterthoughts.


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