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The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage by Edgar Degas

The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage, 1874

Edgar Degas

In this painting’s foreground, a ballet dancer scratches her back indelicately. At center, another dancer yawns while a third ties her ballet slipper. Two tuxedoed men slouch in chairs at the edge of the stage. All of these details converge to create an intimate scene of dancers rehearsing, caught in private poses not meant for an audience. We’re looking down from a slightly elevated vantage point just above the stage. In front, the tops of two string basses protrude above the orchestra pit. The brushwork is loose, but this is not a sketch; the artist made preparatory drawings for almost every figure, so we know the composition was carefully planned.

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Credit
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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