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Edgar Degas The Dancing Class

Edgar Degas, The Dancing Class, ca. 1870

Date: ca. 1870
Medium: Oil on wood
Dimensions: 7 3/4 x 10 5/8 in. (19.7 x 27 cm)

Durand-Ruel, a Paris dealer bought this painting from the artist in January 1872. After a few trading with other artists, the painting was purchased by Captain Henry Hill, Brighton 1875 or 1876. On his death his estate sale held by Christie’s, London on May 25, 1889, this painting no. 26, titled “A pas de deux,” sold for 41 guineas to Wallis. Later the painting sold on December 5, 1916, through the artist Mary Cassatt to Havemeyer. Then by Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 to The Met, New York. were it is on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 815

This early Degas ballet class painting is drafted in his studio because he has not yet secured permission to paint at the theatre, as are the later painting of the ballet. The dancers are posed in his studio along with the props. It is interesting to see other dancers in the mirror but not in the painting. Many of the dancers are posed at an angle to show drama and action. The green watering can in the lower left corner is possible to the dampen the dusty floor and is a similar colour as reflected in the mirror of the wall not in the picture to the right, and on other walls throughout the painting. Notice how the main dancer has the brightest white to make her stand out against the eleven figures composed in a triangle in the picture. All the dancers practicing have pink ballet shoes and most are wearing a pink bow around their waist, the principle dancer being the exception.

The brothel culture of the ballet was so pervasive, as historian Lorraine Coons remarks in her essay “Artiste or coquette? Les petits rats of the Paris Opera ballet,” that even successful dancers who did not resort to prostitution would likely have been suspected to have done so anyway.

Jockeys at the Start

Study Jockeys at the Start, Newmarket by Sir Alfred Munnings

“Study: Jockeys at the Start, Newmarket”

Medium: Oil on Canvas board Size: 50.8 x 61 cm. (20 x 24 in.)

Born: 8 October 1878, Mendham
Died: 17 July 1959, Dedham
Other Artworks: The Red Prince Mare, Changing Horses
Buried: St. Paul’s Cathedral, City of London
Education: Norwich University Of The Arts
Spouses: Violet Munnings (m. 1920–1959), Florence Carter-Wood (m. 1912–1914)

Sir Alfred James Munnings, (British, 1878–1959) KCVO, PRA was known as one of England’s finest painters of horses and as an outspoken critic of Modernism. The loss of sight in his right eye in an accident in 1898 did not deflect his determination to paint, and in 1899 two of his pictures were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Munnings bought Castle House, Dedham, in 1919, describing it as ‘the house of my dreams’. He used the house and adjoining studio extensively throughout the rest of his career, and it was opened as the Munnings Art Museum in the early 1960s.

The oil painting “Study: Jockeys at the Start, Newmarket” is a typical subject for Munnings. He appeared to love outdoor equestrian and farm animal subjects. This painting packed with action and drama, in his typical lose style executed on a medium size board canvas. The contrasting colours of the jockey’s outfits make for great drama, movement of the horses are portrayed in line and texture, all depited eager to race to the finish.