Edgar Degas - Two Dancers

by Emilia Krellmann


Two dancers facing each other are depicted in a format-filling close-up view. In a truly analogous pose, they perform stretching exercises in widely billowing skirts: the head devoutly tilted, the upper body slightly bent forward, one leg on the floor, the other stretched.

The postures of the girls in the pastel painting "Two Dancers" by the Frenchman Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas point to the artistic expression of a painterly snapshot. The body language of the dancers seems to be captured in the picture at the moment of their natural, dynamic movement. It is not difficult for the recipient to guess the following movement of the girls.

In less even, but much more spontaneous, violently placed pastel hatchings, a spottily moving surface in luminous tones is created. The contours are blurred; blurriness characterizes the painting. Together with the choice of framing, which crops the orange gray skirts at the edges of the picture, the impression of a snapshot continues. In particular, the association with the characteristic features of a spontaneous photograph or even a cinematic close-up emerges.


Edgar Degas owes his fame in particular to the numerous variations he made on his depictions of ballet scenes. The subject comprises about 200 works in his oeuvre. The pose of the dancers depicted here, however, is not one that appears in front of the stage, but rather behind it. It reinforces the feeling conveyed to the recipient of an authentic, unadulterated, realistic representation.


The great similarity of the girls in their posture as well as in their clothing, slender physique and tied-up hairstyles not only points to their relationship to each other; reinforced by the indefinability of the faces, the anonymity is increased at the same time. The individuality of the individuals is extremely restrained.


Edgar Degas - Two Dancers

Pastel on paper, 1898, 95.5 x 87 cm, Galerie Neue Meister in Dresden

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