Edgar Degas – “Degas Little Dancers”

Newly Added, Painting | 28 Jul, 2017

Edgar Degas’s groundbreaking statuette of a young ballerina that caused a sensation at the 1881 impressionist exhibition. She was called the little dancer and was aged only 14.  A man who painted ballerina’s and was called “The Painter Of Dancers”

little dancer


This little girl was carefully created and originally was made of made of flesh-coloured wax, with real hair, a muslin skirt and shoes and ribbons of pink satin, and it caused a scandal when first exhibited for its radical realism for depicting a young girl in what some believed was the profession of a prostitute, and for making her ugly.

She is immortalized in bronze and looks as pert as ever, with hands clasped behind her back, her feet in fourth position with weight on the back foot. Her not-so-beautiful chubby face with retrouse nose, is fringed and her eyes are closed, possibly because she was weary with having to pose so long for the artist. After all, it must have taken time for Degas, encircling the pubescent student, to do the more than twenty drawings, showing her from every angle, and perhaps that was the reason for her expression. But for this exhibition, this famous bronze also endorses the theme of ‘movement’ in all its ways – here it was the artist who did the moving around his stationary subject.

Degas interest in drawing life forms came when his first subjects were horses. It was the movement of the objects that caught his eye and therefore led onto his love of dancers especially ballerinas.

Degas like many other men and fellow artists frequented the theatre. Degas was very different from the others as he was more interested in being able to stand backstage and the wings and observe the many dancers that entered and left the stage. He also visited the dressings rooms, where the dancers would be tying up shoes and bodices and also stretching and rehearshing for the final performance. The theatre was not the only place he went to as after all, not all dancers were lucky enough to have made it to the grand theatres. He went to numerous dance schools to again observe. He would record at the dance schools and the theatres the very movements that these artist made. Some performing very complicated and awkward positions, so it was important that Degas concentrated and remained quiet so that he could transfer from eye to paper these images.

He painted many women but to date there is only one image of a man, so it is clear to see that he was only interested in the female form. He was stated as saying that his main interest in his works was the movement and also the pretty clothes that were worn.

Edgar Degas was born on the 19th July 1834 and died the 27th September 1917. He was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance,more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realistHe was a superb draftsman and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and females in the nude His pictures are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation









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