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Degas at the Opéra
March 1 – July 5, 2020
West Building, Ground Floor, Outer Tier

Edgar Degas, The Curtain, c. 1880, pastel over charcoal and monotype on laid paper mounted on board, sheet: 29 x 33.3 cm (11 7/16 x 13 1/8 in.), National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

An exuberant display of fecund imagination and keen observation, Edgar Degas’s renowned images of the Paris Opéra are among the most sophisticated and visually compelling works he ever created. Celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Opéra’s founding, Degas at the Opéra will present approximately 100 of the artist’s best-known and beloved works in a range of media, including paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculpture. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalog.

Degas (1834–1917) is celebrated as the painter of dancers, a subject that dominated his art for nearly four decades. Although there have been many exhibitions celebrating his love of the ballet, this will be the first to consider his enduring fascination with the opéra. A music lover and regular visitor to performances, Degas explored both the public spaces of the Paris Opéra—auditorium, stage, and boxes—as well as more private ones, including dance studios and backstage. He was friends with many of the people he depicted in his paintings, from dancers, singers, and orchestra musicians to the dark-suited subscribers.

The Opéra also fueled some of Degas’s most daring technical innovations, including his first monotype, The Ballet Master (c. 1876), and his wax statue Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1881), which revolutionized sculpture.

The exhibition is curated by Degas expert Henri Loyrette with Kimberly A. Jones, curator of 19th-century French paintings, National Gallery of Art; Leïla Jarbouai, graphic arts curator, Musée d'Orsay; and Marine Kisiel, curator, Musée d'Orsay.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Musées d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie, Paris

Sponsors: BP America is proud to be a sponsor of this Washington, D.C. exhibition as part of its support for the arts in the U.S.

Adrienne Arsht also kindly provided a leadership gift for this exhibition

Additional funding is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art

Passes: Admission is always free and passes are not required

Other venues: Musée d'Orsay, Paris, September 24, 2019–January 19, 2020

About the Artist

Degas, Edgar
, 1834 - 1917

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