The Dancers

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The Dancers

France, 1898
Pastel on paper on board
29 × 24 in. (73.66 × 60.96 cm)
Partial, fractional and promised gift of Janice and Henri Lazarof (M.2005.70.21)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Edgar Degas was one of the great masters of pastel, a medium he favored throughout his career....
Edgar Degas was one of the great masters of pastel, a medium he favored throughout his career. Beginning in the 1870s, in a series of pastels devoted to the subject of dancers, Degas tirelessly explored movement, light, and color, producing a body of work unrivalled in beauty and innovation. In The Dancers (1898) a late masterpiece, Degas used the medium with a freedom and power that belie his failing sight. He deftly defined forms with short, vigorous parallel strokes of pastel in bold colors, adding dabs of white chalk like strings of dazzling pearls to enliven the surface of his dancers' dresses. Degas's composition is daring; he decapitates one dancer, dangles the truncated leg of another, and slashes the left foreground with a prop tree, thus framing and isolating his balletic trio, who are caught, snapshot-like, frozen between rest and movement. The Dancers, whose subject is iconic within the artist's oeuvre, is only the second Degas pastel to enter the collection.


  • Barron, Stephanie. Envisioning Modernism: The Janice and Henri Lazarof Collection. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Munich; New York: DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2012.