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At least three men in black suits, one wearing a top hat, and a ballerina wearing a white costume, all stand among a theater set with a painted, partially raised backdrop across the background in this nearly square pastel over a monotype print on paper. The scene is loosely drawn so many details are difficult to make out. The man we see the most of is shown from the ankles up, standing near the lower right corner of the composition. He faces away from us with his hands in his pockets. The ballerina stands facing our right next to him, and she is cut off by the right edge of the composition. She has pale skin and dark hair, and a black ribbon is tied around her neck. She wears a knee-length white tutu with a crimson-red sash tied around the waist of the white bodice. One pink leg raised parallel to the ground disappears behind the man in black. The stage beneath them is streaked with sand brown and pale gray. A tree trunk and branches leans into the scene from the upper right corner. Part of a stage set painted with mostly straw yellow with touches of mint green screens off the view to our left. Two sets of black suit pants show that a pair of men stand behind it, facing the back of the stage. One of them rests his hand on a cane. The backdrop across the back is painted with greenery below a blue sky. In a gap between the lower edge of the backdrop and the stage, about ten pairs of legs, clad either in pink stockings with white shoes or brown stockings with yellow shoes, are visible from the thighs down. One more pair of black, trouser-covered legs stand with feet planted at hip width, to our right. The artist signed the work in black letters near the lower left corner, “Degas.”

Edgar Degas, The Curtain, c. 1880, pastel over charcoal and monotype on laid paper mounted on board, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 2006.128.16

Canceled—Exhibitions Talk: Degas at the Opéra

Degas at the Opéra

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020
  • 1:00 p.m.
  • West Building, Main Floor - Rotunda
  • Talks Redirect
  • In-person

This talk compares Degas’s Opéra subjects in a range of media and across the span of his career.

Heidi Applegate, lecturer