Edgar Degas’ “The Dance Lesson” (c. 1879) is a remarkable painting that delves into the captivating world of ballet, capturing the behind-the-scenes, candid moments of dancers during rehearsal. As an artist committed to the depiction of modern life, Degas was drawn to the theater in all its forms, from ballet and opera to café-concerts. However, it was the informal, unpolished moments that intrigued him the most, and this theme can be seen not only in his ballet paintings but also in his horse-racing scenes.
Painted around 1879, “The Dance Lesson” is the first of approximately forty ballet scenes Degas created in a distinctive horizontal format. This elongated format allowed him to achieve a panoramic sense of space and a decorative, frieze-like quality. The painting’s composition is influenced by Japanese prints, with figures sharply cropped and placed off-center, and the floor appearing tipped upward.
Despite its seemingly spontaneous appearance, “The Dance Lesson” is the result of meticulous planning and composition. Degas sketched the basic framework in one of his notebooks, then added figures from his drawings and other paintings in carefully arranged configurations. The artist’s attention to detail and willingness to make changes to the composition resulted in a painting that offers a unique perspective on the world of ballet.
When exhibited in the fifth Impressionist exhibition in 1880, “The Dance Lesson” received mixed reactions from critics. However, its innovative style and subject matter have secured its place in art history.
Our museum-quality prints of “The Dance Lesson” are available on archival quality canvas or 100% cotton rag watercolor paper. Each print is carefully reproduced from high-resolution images to ensure the original artwork’s vibrant colors, delicate textures, and intricate details are accurately captured. Bring the enchanting world of ballet and the artistry of Edgar Degas into your home with this stunning print, perfect for any art enthusiast or collector.
Artist: Edgar Degas
Nationality: French, 834 – 1917
Size: overall: 38 x 88 cm (14 15/16 x 34 5/8 in.)
Framed: 59.7 x 108.3 x 5.1 cm (23 1/2 x 42 5/8 x 2 in.)
Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Collection of: Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon 1995.47.6