Researching Degas

Seat Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes

After seeing Degas’s Study for a portrait of Manet in the introduction to part four of this course I thought I would take a look at some more of Degas’s drawings. I was already familiar with his ballet dancer and horse paintings but it was really inspiring to see some of his studies and drawings.

Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Dancer with Arms Outstretched, ca. 1878. Black and white chalk, on tan paper
Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Dancer with Arms Outstretched, ca. 1878. Black and white chalk, on tan paper

The drawing above was one of the first pictures that caught my eye, the black and white chalk really make the figure stand out on the tan paper. The girl’s pose is both simple and graceful and I can only see the upper part of her body I can imagine how her feet would be poised.

Three Studies of a Dancer' (ca. 1880)
Three Studies of a Dancer’ (ca. 1880)

I noticed there was a project called stance coming up so  the next picture I decided to look at was Three Studies of a Dancer above, Degas again uses black and white chalk on tan paper but this time draws his subject from side, front and back in the same pose. My girlfriend who is also a yoga teacher has agreed to pose for me on some of the exercises and like ballet yoga has some graceful movements so it is nice to get some ideas from Degas’s drawings.

Lying Nude Edgar Degas
Lying Nude Edgar Degas

The third drawing that caught my eye was ‘Lying Nude’ a very simple half clothed nude lying on her back. Even though you only see part of the models chest stomach and one of her arms the pose allows your brain to fill in the rest.

Seat Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes
Seated Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes

Looking at the Seated Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes it is easy to see why Degas was so interested in painting ballet dancers with so many interesting positions and stance in their everyday dancing and training routines. In the drawing above something as simple as a ballet dancer adjusting her shoes before a lesson has allowed Degas to draw his subject in another very unique pose.

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