DancersEnlarge image

Dancers, c. 1891

Edgar Degas
French, 1834 - 1917
pastel (with retouches in pastel to the skirts, at right, by unknown hand) on wove paper, mounted on wove paper
51.4 x 33.6 cm
Purchased 1953
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6090)

Degas developed a diverse vocabulary of pastel techniques, many of which are illustrated in various passages of this shimmering work. He applied the initial layers of colour to a rough-surfaced white paper in broad strokes with the side of the stick, so that the texture of the paper reads through the thin pastel layer as dappled highlights. He then added different hues of green to the voluminous skirts with brushed touches of moistened pastel, and striations of white and black chalk clearly define the shadow of one dancer's leg. Bold, vertical strokes of pastel and charcoal describe the flesh-coloured forms.


by 1914 – still in 1946
Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939), Paris, France [1]

– 1953
Dr. Hugo Oelze (1892–1967), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Bremen, Germany [2]

1953 – 1953/03
E.J. Van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam, the Netherlands, purchased from Hugo Oelze [3]

1953/03 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from E.J. Van Wisselingh & Co [4]


[1] In 1914, the pastel was published by Ambroise Vollard [Vollard, Ambroise. "Degas: quatre-vingt-dix-huit reproductions signées par Degas." Paris, 1914, pl. LV]. This catalogue was reprinted in 1918 by Bernheim-Jeune, providing identical provenance information [Bernheim-Jeune (ed.) "Degas." Paris, 1918, pl. LV]. In his 1946 catalogue raisonné Lemoisne lists the work as owned by Vollard [Lemoisne, Paul-André. “Degas et son Oeuvre.” Paris: P. Brame et C.M. de Hauke, aux Arts et métiers graphiques, 1946–49, vol.III, p. 636, cat. no. 1103.

[2] Dr. Hugo Oelze was a German businessman and art collector from Bremen who resided in Amsterdam. He is listed as owner of the painting until 1953 in the stock records of Amsterdam art dealer E.J. Van Wisselingh & Co. [Van Wisselingh Archive, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Dokumentatie (RKD), The Hague, The Netherlands, stock book, stock no. S7365].

[3] See note [2].

[4] Accession Log [NGC curatorial file]

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