April 4, 2009
Between 1873 and 1874, Degas made several studies of dancers adjusting their shoes, shown in different poses and from different angles. These drawings served as preparatory studies for his ballet scenes of the same period. Squared for transfer, the figure in this study was used in the 1874 pastel Dancers Resting (private collection); her tenuously held pose characterizes Degas’s approach to his models. The same dancer, shown in three-quarter view, also appears in The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage in the Museum’s collection
Graphite heightened with white chalk on faded pink paper; sheet: 13 x 9 5/8 in. (33 x 24.4 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.941)
When Degas exhibited his “suite of nudes,” which included this pastel, at the eighth—and final—Impressionist exhibition, in 1886, critics viciously attacked the ungainly poses of his bathers. After the exhibition, Degas gave the picture to Mary Cassatt in exchange for her Girl Arranging Her Hair (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Louisine Havemeyer eventually acquired both pastels.
Charcoal and pastel on light green wove paper, now discolored to warm gray, laid down on silk bolting; 32 x 22 1/8 in. (81.3 x 56.2 cm)
Signed and dated (upper left): Degas / 85
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.41)
March 30, 2009
Painting: Race Horses
Artist: Edgar Degas
Subject: Horse Race
Medium: Pastel on Wood
Size: 11 7/8 x 16 in
Degas was a racehorse enthusiast who made countless drawings and paintings of the animals. Here he focuses entirely on the horses and their riders; the landscape is only cursorily represented. In many places the panel support has been left bare so that the color and texture of the wood grain become a critical part of the composition.