Edgar Degas (1834–1917)
Dancers in the Classroom, c. 1880
Oil on canvas, 15 1/2 x 34 3/4 in. (39.4 x 88.4 cm)
Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1924
This work is one of a series of unusually long, horizontal paintings by Degas, all of which depict ballerinas posing or resting in a practice room. The wide, frieze-like composition and high, oblique viewpoint of these canvases were likely inspired by Japanese prints. Here, Degas catches the physical grace of the ballerinas, as well as the exhausting, competitive conditions of the dance studio. The dancers, tired from their exertion, remain in their own isolated worlds. Degas enlivens the scene with bright passages of tutus, sashes, and a colorful fan that play off the muted hues of the walls and floor.
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