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  

The Painting

Edgar Degas, The Dance Lesson, c. 1879
Edgar Degas, The Dance Lesson, c. 1879, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon 1995.47.6

The Dance Lesson, 1878
In more than 1,500 works of art, Edgar Degas portrayed the Paris Opera-Ballet in all its varied guises: the prima ballerina on stage, bowing to her audience, the rehearsal halls with dancers en pointe and at rest, the dance masters, the orchestra musicians, even the spectators who subscribed each year to the ballet season.

But the subject that dominates more than half of his ballet paintings are back room scenes like The Dance Lesson: dancers resting in the studio, propped awkwardly on a chair or the floor, heads down, exhausted after practicing to the ceaseless demands of the ballet master.

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