Two Seated Women
Two Seated Women, ca. 1878
Pastel on blue laid paper (now faded)
30.9 x 47 cm (12 3/16 x 18 1/2 inches)
Gift of the Museum Committee in Appreciation of John Maxon’s Directorship 59.111
(November 12, 2010 – June 6, 2011)
To create scores of drawings, pastels, paintings, and sculptures of ballet dancers, Edgar Degas hired young women from the Paris Ballet as his models. They posed in his studio, and based on sketches in charcoal and pastel, such as this, he composed larger finished scenes with groups of figures performing or rehearsing on stage or in an imagined studio space. On the left, the outlines of the model’s shoulders are visible beneath the red shawl, suggesting that Degas instructed his model to sit in the same position multiple times in various states of dress. His sketches helped him to master anatomy, posture, and light before exploring the relationship of the body to the clothes. Degas’s notes suggest that this particular model may be Nellie Franklin, a young English dancer then working in Paris. Little is known about Franklin’s biography and career, but it is likely that she was one of many young women from impoverished backgrounds who were apprenticed to the ballet at an early age.(October 21, 2016 – June 11, 2017)
As in Ballet Girl, Degas used blue chalk to indicate shadows in this sketch. These two women were probably also performers at the Paris Ballet, where Degas often found his models. He made quick sketches from life—both at the ballet and in his studio—which he then incorporated into later painted compositions, focusing on specific areas or aspects of their form.
The contrast between the color and finish of the busts of the two women seen here suggests that their shawls might have been Degas’s primary interest, explaining the rough and unfinished rendering of the rest of their bodies.(September 16, 2005 – January 15, 2006)
Edgar DegasSix Friends At Dieppe
Edited BySingsen, Judith A., ed.
Contributions byO'Brien, Maureen C.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2005
TypeExhibition CatalogueExchange Exhibition, Exhibition ExchangeFrom the Collection of Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; From the Collection of The Museum of Art, Rhode
Contributions byMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Waltham, MA: Rose Art Museum, Brandesi University., 1967
James Fowle, “A Note on Degas,” Museum Notes 51, no. 2 (December 1964): 3-20.
P.A. Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre. Paris: Arts et métiers graphiques, 1946.
Barbara S. Shapiro, Edgar Degas: The Reluctant Impressionist. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1974.
George T. M. Shackelford, Degas: The Dancers. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1984.
Works by Edgar Degas: Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1947.
Degas, 1834-1917. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Museum of Art, 1936.
Art in New England: Paintings, Drawings, Prints from Private Collections in New England. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1939.
Loan Exhibition of Drawings and Pastels by Edgar Degas, 1834-1917. Washington, D.C.: Phillips Memorial Gallery, 1947.