Ballet Girl, ca. 1886-1888
Pastel on blue laid paper (now faded)
45.7 x 28.6 cm (18 x 11 1/4 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 23.038
(June 5 –October 26, 2008)
The red stamp on the lower left of this drawing indicates that it was part of Degas’s personal collection, which was sold in 1918. Seen from above, the dancer faces right, her body bent slightly forward as she adjusts her bodice. Light penetrates her gauzy tutu from the rear right, revealing her legs underneath. Rather than detailing her appearance or physiognomy, Degas rendered her volume and outline with a solid, massive line, eliminating all that is nonessential. In passages near the dancer’s right arm and leg, the use of blue chalk served to cover the multiple contours on the now-faded blue paper, as well as to provide a shadow for the figure.(April 23 –June 30, 1970)(October 21, 2016 – June 11, 2017)
In this drawing of a dancer, Degas focused on the effects of artificial light on form and movement. Using a solid line to contrast the transparency of the girl’s gauzy tutu, he reworked the dancer’s right arm and leg before settling on the gesture seen here, in which she adjusts her bodice.
The vivid blue chalk used around the dancer’s legs and chest would have matched the original color of the sheet, which has faded over time. Degas frequently used brightly hued papers to give his drawings a sense of luminosity.(September 16, 2005 – January 15, 2006)
Selection VFrench Watercolors and Drawings, ca. 1800-1910
Contributions byChampa, Kermit S.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1975
TypeMonographs and CollectionsEdgar DegasSix Friends At Dieppe
Edited BySingsen, Judith A., ed.
Contributions byO'Brien, Maureen C.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2005
Kendall, Richard and Jill Devonyar. Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2011.
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.
Catalogue des tableaux, pastels et dessins par Edgar Degas et provenant de son atelier. Paris: Galerie Georges Petit, 1918.
“Atelier Edgar Degas,” La Chronique des arts (January - February 1919): 176-177.
“Examples of Degas’ Art,” Bulletin of the Rhode Island School of Design (October 1923): 38-39.
Victor Carlson and Carol Hynning Smith, Master Drawings and Watercolors of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art, 1979.
Barbara S. Shapiro, Edgar Degas: The Reluctant Impressionist. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1974.
Jean Sutherland Boggs, Drawings by Degas. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1966.