National Gallery of Art: Art for the Nation Edgar Degas' signature  
A Dance PortfolioThe Little Fourteen-Year-Old DancerThe Dancing LifeThe Painting Edgar Degas' signature Previous page Next page
The Dance Lesson Edgar Degas  
The Dance Lesson by Edgar Degas Standing dancer

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

Degas likened the dancers’ training to his work as an artist. Just as he sketched the dancers’ every gesture and position to make his paintings as authentic as possible, the dancers performed countless repetitions to perfect their movements.

Degas sketched as he wandered the Opera House, filling his notebooks with drawings of dancers and then returning to his studio to compose and paint.

Compare one of his sketches to a figure in The Dance Lesson by clicking the highlighted detail.

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