National Gallery of Art: Art for the Nation Edgar Degas' signature  
A Dance PortfolioThe Little Fourteen-Year-Old DancerThe Dancing LifeThe Painting
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The Dance Lesson Edgar Degas  
Dancers Backstage by Edgar Degas
  Edgar Degas, Dancers Backstage, 1876/1883, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection 1970.17.25
In Degas’ ballet paintings, you often see men in formal dress waiting on the stage, in the wings, in the practice rooms, or in the dressing rooms with the dancers. These men are the abonnés, the yearly subscribers to the Opera. Entitled to the full run of the Opera House (even during performances), the abonnés befriended the ballerinas, and in some cases, they became the dancers’ “protectors.”

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