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A dimly lit ballet studio is filled with about two dozen young ballerinas tying on their shoes, stretching, or practicing en pointe in this horizontal painting. The girls all wear dance costumes with knee length tutus, tight bodices, and belts in canary yellow, rose pink, royal blue. The girls all have brown or dark blond hair. The room seems to be mostly lit from windows on the wall opposite us so some of the girls’ faces are in shadow, but all appear to have light skin. Starting from the left, two dancers are visible from the waist down as they descend a spiral staircase that rises along the left edge of the canvas and off the top. To our left of center is a knot of several dancers, two of whom stand on their toes en pointe, with arms raised. Further right and closest to us, four dancers cluster around a mahogany brown bench. Rose pink ballet slippers are piled next to a seated dancer wearing a scarlet red jacket over her costume. Her head is turned to our right to talk with the girl standing next to her. On the other side of the bench, another dancer bends over to reach her feet, presumably tying on her slippers. The fourth stands on the far right with her back to us, her head turned to our left to look back at the central group. More dancers practice in a room beyond, seen through a wide, squared opening in the upper right of the composition. The room we seem to be in has dark olive green walls and the room beyond has brighter, parchment yellow walls. The faces and some details of the costume are loosely painted so their features are indistinct. The artist signed the painting in the lower right corner, “Degas.”

Edgar Degas, The Dance Class, c. 1873, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (William A. Clark Collection), 2014.79.710

Introductory Slide Overview: Degas at the Opéra

  • Friday, March 6, 2020
  • 11:00 a.m.
  • West Building Lecture Hall

This slide overview serves an introduction to the Degas at the Opéra exhibition. Staff lecturers discuss some of the artist’s best-known works depicting the Paris Opéra in a range of media, including paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculpture.

Staff lecturers

Watch here