The J. Paul Getty Museum

Two Studies of Dancers

Object Details


Two Studies of Dancers


Edgar Degas (French, 1834 - 1917)




France (Place Created)


about 1873


Black chalk heightened with white chalk on green paper

Object Number:



46.8 × 29.5 cm (18 7/16 × 11 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

This unusually well preserved sheet contains two early studies of ballet dancers—a subject with which Degas’s name has become synonymous. The primary figure stands on one foot, with arms spread wide and her free leg extended in a battement à la seconde. She wears a muslin tutu and a look of concentration. Her counterpart, depicted horizontally in the lower portion of the sheet, turns downwards and inwards, apparently adjusting her bodice or sash. Strokes of white chalk indicate light streaming in from an unseen source behind the first dancer and before the second; two inscriptions near the bottom edge of the sheet read “très reflété”: a note from the artist to himself indicating strong reflected light. Degas used brilliant green, pink, and blue papers to work out individual figures for several of his ballet paintings from the early 1870s, tracing the contours and shadows in black chalk or thinned oil paint, using the colored paper to fill in the middle tones, and adding a few touches of white to suggest the reflective surfaces of satin and skin. The principal figure on this sheet is squared for transfer; both she and her companion appear in a painting known as The Rehearsal, today in the Harvard Art Museums: there the dancing girl wears a crown of pale blue flowers and appears to the left of center, while the girl turned away figures in the background, her head apparently bowed in conference with another dancer. Other preparatory studies for this picture are today in the Morgan Library and the Norton Simon Museum.The Harvard painting reveals the light source all three drawings share to have been a row of high windows looking onto a leafy courtyard from the main rehearsal room at the old Paris opera house in the rue Le Peletier. This clearly identifiable location suggests that the Harvard picture (and, hence, the proposed sheet) can probably be dated to no later than 1873; the old opera house burned to the ground in October of that year. Degas, however, kept this drawing in his studio, recycling its figures again and again. Both reappear in a tempera painting of about 1878 today in the Shelburne Museum, where the same dancing girl wears a black hair ribbon and a pink sash; this same figure appears yet again in the background of an oil painting today in the Frick Collection of about 1878-1879, wearing a blue hair ribbon and an unsettling half-smile.


Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917 [sold, Atelier Degas, 2ème Vente, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, December 11-13, 1918, lot 227 to Jules Strauss.]


Jules Strauss [sold, Collection Jules Strauss, Galerie George Petit, Paris, December 15, 1932, lot 10 to M. Bellier, possibly Alphonse Bellier or Jean-Claude Bellier.]
Source: Sotheby's, London. Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale, 5 February 2014, p. 30.


Possibly Alphonse Bellier, French, 1886 - 1980


Or Jean-Claude Bellier, French,


André Schoeller, 1879 - 1955, sold to Wildenstein & Co., 1938.


Wildenstein & Co. (New York), sold to Mr. Edwin C. Vogel, 1954.


Edwin C. Vogel, American, 1884 - 1973 and Florence Goldman, American, 1891 - 1960


Acquavella Galleries, Inc., sold to Jan Krugier, December 1988.


Jan Krugier, Swiss, born Poland, 1928 - 2008 and Marie-Anne Poniatowski, Polish, born 1931, upon the death of Jan Krugier, retained by Marie-Anne Poniatowski.


Marie-Anne Poniatowski, Polish, born 1931 [sold, Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale, Sotheby's, London, 5 February 2014, lot 1, to Jean-Luc Baroni.]


Jean-Luc Baroni, Ltd., sold to private collector, 2014.


Private Collection, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017.

A Loan Exhibition of Degas for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary (April 7 to May 14, 1949)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (New York), April 7 to May 14, 1949
Drawings through Four Centuries (June to September 1, 1949)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (New York), June to September 1, 1949
Degas: Paintings, Sculpture, Sketches (May 1 to May 31, 1950)
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), May 1 to May 31, 1950
The Art of Drawing (May 14 to July 4, 1953)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (London), May 14 to July 4, 1953
Great Master Drawings of Seven Centuries (October 13 to November 7, 1959)
  • Knoedler & Company (New York), October 13 to November 7, 1959
The Presence of Ingres (November 5 to December 23, 1988)
  • Jan Krugier Gallery, November 5 to December 23, 1988
Degas (June 19 to November 21, 1993)
  • Fondation Pierre Gianadda (Martigny), June 19 to November 21, 1993
La Sculpture des Peintres (July 2 to October 19, 1997)
  • Fondation Maeght (Saint-Paul), July 2 to October 19, 1997
Miradas sin tiempo: Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Colección Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski / The Timeless Eye: Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection (May 29, 1999 to August 2000)
  • Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin), May 29 to August 1, 1999
  • Peggy Guggenheim Foundation (Venice), September 4 to December 12, 1999
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid), February 2 to May 14, 2000
  • Musées d'art et d'histoire, Genève (Geneva), June to August 2000
Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski (March 19 to June 30, 2002)
  • Musée Jacquemart-André (Paris), March 19 to June 30, 2002
Goya bis Picasso: Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski (April 8 to August 28, 2005)
  • Albertina (Vienna), April 8 to August 28, 2005
Das ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski (July 20 to October 7, 2007)
  • Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung (Munich), July 20 to October 7, 2007
Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement (September 17 to December 11, 2011)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), September 17 to December 11, 2011
Michelangelo to Degas: Major New Acquisitions (January 17 to April 22, 2018)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 17 to April 22, 2018
Degas at the Opera (September 23, 2019 to July 5, 2020)
  • Musée d'Orsay (Paris), September 23, 2019 to January 19, 2020

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux, pastels et dessins par Edgar Degas et provenant de son atelier. December 11-13, 1918, p. 128, lot 227, ill.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Collection Jules Strauss. Catalogue des importants tableaux modernes, pastels, aquarelles, dessins. December 15, 1932, p. 10, lot 10, ill.

A Loan Exhibition of Degas for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary, exh. cat. (New York: Wildenstein, 1949), p. 55, no. 50.

Drawings through Four Centuries, exh. cat. (New York: Wildenstein, 1949), unpaginated, no. 53.

Degas: Paintings, Sculpture, Sketches, exh. cat. (Toledo: Toledo Museum of Art, 1950), unpaginated.

The Art of Drawing, 1500-1950, exh. cat. (London: Wildenstein & Co Ltd, 1953), unpaginated, no. 90, ill.

Rich, Daniel Catton. Edgar-Hilaire-German Degas (1834-1917) (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1953), unpaginated, pl. 132, ill.

Daulte, François. Le dessin français de Manet a Cézanne (Lausanne: Editions Spes, 1954), pp. 8, 50, no. 8, ill.

"Drawings of Seven Centuries at Knoedler's, New York." The Burlington Magazine 101, no. 678-679 (1959), p. 351, no. 54, ill.

Great Master Drawings of Seven Centuries, exh. cat. (New York: M. Knoedler and Company, 1959), pp. 81-82, no. 73, pl. 46.

Denison, Cara. D, et. al. Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Victor Thaw, Part II (New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1985), pp. 65-66, under no. 44, ill.

The Presence of Ingres: Important Works by Ingres, Chassériau, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Balthus, exh. cat. (New York: Jan Krugier Gallery, 1988), unpaginated, no. 8, ill.

Gorden, Robert and Andrew Forge. Degas. Richard Howard, trans. (New York: Abradale Press, 1991), p. 189, ill.

Pickvance, Ronald, ed. Degas, exh. cat. (Martigny: Fondation Pierre Gianadda, 1993), pp. 70, 72, no. 2, fig. 35.

La sculpture des peintres, exh. cat. (Saint-Paul: Fondation Maeght, 1997), pp. 50-51, no. 14, ill.

Rylands, Philip. The Timeless Eye: Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, exh. cat. (Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection, with G+H Verlag Berlin, 1999), pp. 250-251, no. 118, ill.

Dückers, Alexander, ed. Linie, Licht und Schatten: Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Ponitowski (Berlin: G+H Verlag Berlin, 1999), pp. 218-219, no. 102, ill.

Llorens, Tomás. Miradas sin tiempo: Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de al Colección Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, exh. cat. (Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2000), pp. 290-291, no. 129, ill.

La passion du dessin: Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, exh. cat. (Paris: Museé Jacquemart-André, 2002), pp. 252-253, no. 114, cover, ill.

Schröder, Klaus Albrecht and Christine Ekelhart, eds. Goya bis Picasso: Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Kruger-Poniatowski, exh. cat. (Vienna: Albertina, 2005), pp. 158-159, ill.

Lange, Christiane and Roger Diederen, eds. Das ewige Auge- Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, exh. cat. (Munich: Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, with Hirmer Verlag München, 2007), pp. 244-245, no. 114, ill.

Kendall, Richard, and Jill Devonyar. Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement, exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2011), pp. 42-43, cat. no. 8.

Sotheby's, London. Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale. February 5, 2014, pp. 30-33, lot 1, ill.

Chaldecott, Alexandra and Joanna Watson. Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings (London: Jean-Luc Baroni, 2016), pp. 140-143, no. 37, ill.