Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty (Kids)

*Frieze of Dancers (Danseuses attachant leurs sandales)*

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas. Frieze of Dancers (Danseuses attachant leurs sandales). 1895 6007

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Frieze of Dancers (Danseuses attachant leurs sandales). c. 1895. Oil on canvas. 27 9/16 × 78 15/16″ (70 × 200.5 cm). The Cleveland Museum of Art. Gift of the Hanna Fund. ©The Cleveland Museum of Art

Narrator: We’ve seen that Degas liked drawing the same thing more than once, always changing things a little each time. But here he’s showing us one long image. At first it looks simple: four dancers in a row. But wait – maybe there’s more going on here.

Jodi Hauptman: One of the questions about this work is, are you seeing a single dancer?

Narrator: Maybe Degas painted the same dancer four times.

Jodi Hauptman: Does he draw the dancer from one position, and then he moves his chair and draws her from another position, and then he moves his chair again and draws her from another position? We can imagine Degas doing that.

Narrator: Look – all four dancers are tying their right shoe.

Jodi Hauptman: They all have red hair, and in different positions, that red hair is lit up, more or less, in shadow or in light.

Narrator: And all of them wear the same soft, fluffy skirt and white leotard. So are we seeing one dancer?

Jodi Hauptman: Or is he showing us four different dancers, who are all tying their shoes at the same time?

Narrator: Dancers often wear the same costumes, so these could be four different dancers, getting ready for rehearsal together.

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