The Dancing Lesson
Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas
Oil on canvas
This painting shows young ballet dancers stretching at the barre on the left and resting from their exertions on the right. The unusual shape of the painting and its dramatic composition--in which the placement of the figures and the diagonal lines of the wooden floor enhance the illusion of receding space--may have been influenced both by photography and by the design of Japanese woodblock prints, which were increasingly available in western Europe during this period. In addition, Degas's use of light and shade--the relatively dark foreground and the brighter sunlight flooding into the room through the full-length windows--suggests the size and emptiness of the rehearsal room.
This work is currently traveling abroad as part of the Clark's international tour.