I selected this painting since I happened to see it several times and constantly admire it. Edgar Degas, French painter, sculptor and printmaker, was member of Impressionist group and very well known for his representation of Parisian life. Interestingly Degas always remained a fateful Parisian, living and working in the same area of Paris during his whole active life. During his adolescence he spent a few years in Italy, where he studied sculpture of antiquity and works of major masters of Italian Renaissance, namely Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Titian and lately works of Northern artists Anthony Van Dyck and Frans Snyder. Degas chose the human figure and especially female figure as principal subject of his work. Ballet dancers especially would preoccupy him throughout his whole career. He actually happened to be called at some point as “painter of dancers”.
Most of Degas artistic works are colored, but this work, being a colorless painting, differs drastically from numerous and multicolored paintings of ballet dancers. The only explanation to that may be that this painting was meant to be a model for an engraver or may actually be a drawing and not a painting. Degas’ drawings include examples in pen, ink, pencil, chalk, pastel, charcoal, and oil on paper, often in combination with each other, while his paintings were carried out in watercolour, gouache, distemper, metallic pigments, and oils, on surfaces including card, silk, ceramic, tile, and wood panel, as well as widely varied textures of canvas. That is what makes this Ballet Rehearsal so unique and differentiates it from the rest of Degas’ work. Speaking of the composition we see that two groups of dancers are very different. The elegant dancing ballerinas appear to be very comfortable and relaxed enjoying their performance, whereas the other group of equally elegant dancers, waiting to perform, seems to be very tense, anxiously waiting for their participation. There is a presence of only one man, maybe a family member of one of the dancers, far right in this composition.
This painting, first presented in 1874, was momentarily noticed because of its unique grey shades, milky tone invented by the artist and skillfully applied stage lightning. I believe that this is the reason of my own admiration for and attraction to this particular artistic work.