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EDGAR DEGAS

STUDY OF TWO DANCERS, CA. 1885

About the Artwork

In his many studies of ballet dancers Degas sought to reveal the hard work that went into creating the illusion of the glamour of dance. He was particularly interested in depictions of dancers off-stage or in rehearsal. The two poses seen here—the brooding dancer with her head in her hands and the dancer adjusting a slipper—were so striking that Degas incorporated them into several other works. Here he rendered the outlines with his boldest, most powerful strokes, smudged the charcoal for coloration in some areas, and then added white chalk for dramatic highlighting. With this drawing Degas achieved the effect of intense life, capturing a sense of exhaustion that borders on despair in the dancer on the left.

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