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Degas and the Dance

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Degas and the Dance

By Richard Kendall and Jill Devonyar

2002
325 illustrations, including 200 plates in full color

Paper ISBN 1-885444-26-5
Cloth ISBN 0-8109-3282-2

Known in his lifetime as “the painter of dancers,” Edgar Degas has long been recognized as the foremost artist of the ballet. More than half of his vast body of work—created over five decades and in all mediums at his command—is devoted to the activities of dancers, both on and off the stage.

Surprisingly, there has never been a comprehensive study of Degas’ ballet work in its historical context. Now, in Degas and the Dance, Richard Kendall and Jill Devonyar place the artist and his work against the backdrop of the Paris Opera, home of the national ballet company. Degas has always been thought of as somewhat detached from the day-to-day life of the dancers he depicted. Kendall and Devonyar’s new research, especially in the Opera archives, reveals that the artist was far more informed about the ballet than has previously been imagined. To an extraordinary extent, Degas’ artistic ambitions developed under the roof of the Opera, and his achievements as an artist cannot be wholly grasped without reference to it.

Richly illustrated and expertly researched and written, Degas and the Dance illuminates the world of nineteenth-century ballet and the life of a great artist who was obsessed by his subject. Admirers of dance and of art will be fascinated by this interdisciplinary study. The text and illustrations range across a variety of fascinating topics, including Degas’ predecessors and contemporaries, the ballerinas he knew, the nature of the classroom training, and the ballet repertoire in his day.

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