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Edgar Degas - Danseuse rajustant son épaulette

Edgar Degas

Danseuse rajustant son épaulette

Pastel & charcoal on paper laid down on cardboard: 18.7(h) x 13.6(w) in / 47.6(h) x 34.6(w) cm
Signed lower right: Degas

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 1834 - Paris - 1917

Ref: BY 177


Danseuse rajustant son épaulette


Signed lower right: Degas

Pastel & charcoal on paper laid down on cardboard: 18¾ x 13 5/8 in / 47.6 x 34.6 cm

Frame Size: 26 x 20½ x 2 inches


Painted circa 1896-1899






Julie Reinach-Goujon (1885-1971), Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Madame Pierre Goujon);

by descent to Monsieur G. 



Paris, Gazette des Beaux-arts, Degas dans les collections françaises, June 1955, no.151



Paul-André Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre, Brame et Hauke, Paris 1946, vol. III, p.736-7, no.1269, illus.

Michel Schulman, Edgar Degas: The Digital Critical Catalogue, no.MS-2287


To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Edgar Degas being prepared by Brame & Lorenceau and registered in their database of the artist



Edgar Degas was born within a stone’s throw of the Paris opera house and not far from its successor the Opéra Garnier, still a jewel of the city today. In the course of his career he made over a thousand drawings, paintings and sculptures of dancers. Degas was an abonné, a season ticket holder with access to the backstage and rehearsal rooms of the ballet. He portrayed dancers in performance and in ballet classes where the young members of the corps de ballet - petits rats as they were known – began their arduous careers. He painted famous ballerinas transformed by the green limelight of the stage and in their elegant street clothes. 


This drawing was made circa 1896-1899, an era in which Degas made a large number of ballet paintings. Unlike in his earlier career, Degas was not interested in portraying the dancers in specific productions. This pastel has a powerful sense of graceful physicality. Oblivious of any audience, the dancer adjusts her shoulder strap before going onstage, evoking the precision and perfectionism of her profession. There is tremendous energy in the complexity of her crossed arms and the sweep of her athlete’s body.


The drawing is related to the left hand figures in a monumental oil in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Four dancers, c.1899, as members of the corps stretch at the edge of the stage. Degas probably composed the four studies from the same model. Two of the figures repeat poses from photographs made circa 1895-98. Degas often used photographs as further inspiration alongside his studies from life.






Edgar Degas, Four dancers, oil on canvas, c.1899, 59 ½ x 71 in / 151.1 x 180.2 cm.

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Chester Dale Collection, inv. no.1963.10.122.