Waiting (L'Attente)

Object Details


Waiting (L'Attente)


Edgar Degas (French, 1834 - 1917)




about 1882


Pastel on paper


48.3 x 61 cm (19 x 24 in.)

Credit Line:

Owned jointly with the Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena

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A young ballet dancer bends forward to massage her foot, while her somberly dressed older companion sits silently beside her on a bench. They appear to be waiting, perhaps for an audition or its outcome. The two figures are a study in contrasts: The athletic dancer dressed in a dazzling costume reflects the glamour and artifice of the stage, while the shabbily dressed, bent figure represents the drabness of everyday life.

Edgar Degas painted modern life; his subjects, including laundresses, milliners, nightclub singers, horse races, and the ballet, reflected contemporary Parisian occupations and diversions. From the 1860s onward, Degas frequented the Paris Opéra, where he made numerous studies of performances, rehearsals, and backstage scenes. Later, he would refine and combine these motifs in his studio, in exercises of daring technical skill and compelling psychological subtlety. Here he demonstrated his complete mastery of the pastel technique. Delicately blended strokes are combined with bold hatching and emphatic slashes; pink, blue, and creamy tones describe the dancer in contrast to the dark, severe form of the older woman.

- 1892

Léon-Marie Clapisson, 1837 - 1894 (Paris, France), sold to Galerie Durand-Ruel, 1892.

1892 - 1895

Galerie Durand-Ruel (Paris), sold to Henry Osborne and Louisine Havemeyer, New York, 1895.

1895 - 1907

Mr. Henry Osborne Havemeyer, 1847 - 1907 (New York, New York)

1895 - 1907

and Mrs. Louisine Havemeyer, 1855 - 1929 (New York, New York), upon the death of Henry Osborne Havemeyer, retained by Louisine Havemeyer.

1907 - 1929

Mrs. Louisine Havemeyer, 1855 - 1929 (New York, New York), by inheritance to Horace and Doris Havemeyer, 1929.

1929 - 1956

Mr. Horace Havemeyer, 1886 - 1956 (New York, New York)

1929 - 1956

and Mrs. Doris Havemeyer, 1890 - 1982 (New York, New York), upon the death of Horace Havemeyer, retained by Doris Havemeyer.

1956 - 1982

Mrs. Doris Havemeyer, 1890 - 1982 [sold, Havemeyer sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 18, 1983, lot 8, to the Norton Simon Museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum]

Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Old and Modern Painters (April 6 to April 24, 1915) (Cat. 34)
  • Knoedler & Company, (New York), April 6 to April 24, 1915
Degas, 1834-1917 (November 7 to December 7, 1936) (Cat. 41)
  • Pennsylvania Museum of Art, (Philadelphia), November 7 to December 7, 1936
Degas at the Getty (March 7 to June 11, 2006) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 7 to June 11, 2006
Degas: Russian Dancers and the Art of Pastel (May 19 to October 11, 2015) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 19 to October 11, 2015
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