Edgar Degas’ Last Painting

Edgar Degas "Two Dancers Resting I"

Edgar Degas "Two Dancers Resting I"
Edgar Degas "Two Dancers Resting I"

This painting (click to enlarge) is believed to be one of the last or the last pastel painting made by Edgar Degas, with his eyesight almost completely gone. Degas’ visual decline began at age 36, shortly after enlisting in the National Guard during the Franco Prussion war, due apparently to a form of retinopathy. By his forties, Degas developed a loss of central vision. Painting became even more difficult, he had problems in distinguishing colors and later on asked his models to identify the colors of his media. His vision became progressively worse, and by 1891, at age 57, he could no longer read.
Degas never specifically described the impact of his vision on his art. As his eyes worsened, Degas changed media from oils to pastels, which are looser and easier to work with and require less precision. Difficulties in color differentiation may have contributed to the bold coloration of Degas’ later works. A decline in contrast sensitivity and acuity is demonstrated in the progressively wider strokes evident in his later works. Degas’ retinopathy also accounted for his move into sculpture, printmaking, and photography. While some of the changes in his work may be attributable to stylistic changes and personal development, his changing vision almost certainly played a role. It is possible that some of Degas’ greatness as an artist is attributable to his visual loss. Renoir, for example, said of Degas: “Had he died at 50, he would have been remembered as a good, competent artist, nothing more.”
Source: Vision and Aging Lab

Edgar Degas, Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green)

The original of this paining is located in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. This is one of the entries in the Googles Art Project and you can check incredible details on this link.

Degas was fascinated by the world of ballet; hence, it figured prominently in many of his paintings. Here, the group of dancers is depicted in mid-performance, as viewed from an upper side box. Only one of the girls in green is shown full-length, captured as she executes a swift, complicated turn. The other figures are cropped, leaving the viewer to imagine the rest. In the background, a number of ballerinas dressed in orange stand against the landscape scenery, awaiting their turn. Degas’ use of a cropped, off-centred pictorial space was influenced by photography and by Japanese prints. He felt that the unfinished, transitory nature of reality could only be conveyed using a fragmented technique. Here, the fleeting nature of the movements is captured with rapid pastel strokes, applied with immense skill.

Edgar Degas “The Chorus”

The Chorus, which dates from 1877, is a work in bright pastels portraying a row of male choir singers on stage. The paintings has been stolen at the beginning of 2010, and there is no news about it being retrieved. The Musee d’Orsay had loaned “The Chorus” to a gallery in Marseilles, France for an exhibition on the work of Edgar Degas. Musee d’Orsay in Paris valued it at €800,000, correcting an estimate given by local police that it was worth some €30 million. Therefore if you see it while you visit some of your art collector friends, please let us know 🙂

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