Edgar Degas Paintings

Three Ballet Dancers

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Edgar Degas is a significant artist deriving from the Impressionism movement in the late 19th century. The painting Three Ballet Dancers illustrates a stunning oil on canvas painting dating back to 1879. The artist enjoyed changing mediums between pastels and oil paints to create his masterpieces.

Degas and his contemporaries such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, significantly impacted the transformation of art away from realism into a new movement that changed the course of art history. The artist created a number of captivating paintings that manifest his masterful artwork when depicting ballerinas. Some of these pieces include Dancers Pink And Green, Blue Dancers, Group of Dancers, and Before The Curtain Call. Three Ballet Dancers illustrates the lively energy of the three ballerinas as they dance near one another in formation. It seems as if the women are gently seated on the floor, yet still dancing. This is a different element for Degas as throughout his work the ballerinas are usually depicted on stage performing or behind the curtain preparing. Edouard Manet also produced many notable impressionist paintings including A Bar at the Folies Bergeres, Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe and Chez le Pere Lathuille.

It’s fascinating to witness the artist taking a different route to showcase the beautiful artwork. The woman near the left is pointing her face towards the side of the stage. Her sharp nose, and pale skin distinguished her from the other ballerinas. Her hair is covered in a dark black hue. She is seated on the floor with her left leg bent across the floor under her right leg pointed. Her arms are crossed against her chest as she holds her head up high. The ballerina within the middle gently lights her chest as she flings her arms upwards in a classic pose. Her legs are summarily bent across the floor as she looks onto the back of the dark haired woman. The final ballerina is hidden near the left of the canvas as part of her face is covered by the ginger haired ballerina in the middle.

It seems as if the final woman is gently hugging as she prepares to take the stage. She does not hold her hands in a prominent position, nor do her legs. Instead her dress covers her body parts as the only element shown is her face. Rather than having a bright smile as the other woman do, the ballerina has an embarrassed look on her face as she hides behind the other ballerinas. This is a fascinating element to witness through the artist’s work as the ballerinas in his paintings usually do not portray any emotion in their face that’s meant to captivate the viewer. However, with her body language hiding behind the ginger haired ballerina and her fearful face, the viewer is able to make up their own story by just looking at the piece.

The other interesting element to note within the piece is the higher angle in which Degas based the work in. Rather than painting the scene from the view of the audience below the staged, Degas showcases the scene above and to the side of the stage. While perhaps this was a balcony view some guest had, it’s more so an intimate take of what goes on when closer to the stage. This new perspective through the artwork gives the viewer a glimpse of viewing the art of ballet in a better position. Degas adored showcasing these secrets throughout his work. The background of the painting is merged together through oil paints. Shades of green, blue, gold, and white fill the background alluding to a setting. The artist had no desire to portray a setting, and preferred to focus on the pink ballerinas.

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