Two Dancers

Degas, Edgar ((1834-1917)) | Painter


Soon, they will hear the call ‘to the stage, please!’ The two ballet dancers in their bright orange tutus are busy with their warm-up exercises – and taking the chance to have a chat. The dancer on the right is holding one foot in her hand, bending her upper body forward to stretch her leg. The dancer on the left is warming up the muscles in her neck.

In his works, French artist Edgar Degas frequently took such unspectacular moments as his subjects. Rather than showing the glittering performance, he takes us behind the scenes. We enter a world normally removed from the public gaze, witnessing moments during rehearsals, in the dressing rooms – or here – casual conversations. As so often in his works, Degas has depicted these two dancers in pastels, a medium in which he excelled. You can almost hear how the tutus rustle as the dancers move.

Modern art was driven by a longing for freedom – a desire to break free from the straitjacket of accepted artistic conventions. In Paris in particular, artists such as the Impressionists sought to transcend such limits, replacing the formal art principles taught in the state art academies by a new way of directly depicting their visual experience of the world.

Here, Japanese coloured woodblock prints were a major source of inspiration. For Degas and his contemporaries, the way Japanese prints simply cropped figures at the edge of the picture, rendered motifs in extreme close-up, or built compositions around areas of colour were nothing short of revolutionary – and Degas also used all these stylistic devices in his famous ballet scenes.



Material & Technique
Pastel on paper
Galerie Neue Meister
c 1898
Inventory number
Gal.-Nr. 2586