Edgar Degas and his Passion for Ballet

Last Updated: 07 Dec 2022
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Ballet was considered as a classical form of art. The beauty of this dance type was considered timeless and unchanging. It was considered as an art in itself. The movement of the ballerinas represented years of training. Routines were rehearsed until they were perfected. It was an art form that entailed perfection and it was all for a night’s glory for a stage performance.

The movement of the ballet dancers entailed specific rhythm; it required them to have undeniable grace and unity with the music. This made dance, for whatever genre or form, a beautiful piece of performance art. The discipline that was attributed to ballet was something that was unique to this dance form.

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Ballet was a dance that was considered one of the most exquisite. It had existed for centuries and was depicted in numerous art works. Strength and grace characterized this art form. The experience of watching ballet was the actual experience of art. When dance was depicted in paintings, sculptures or photography, it would represent something that was beyond beautiful. It was considered as the capturing of beauty on the canvass or the photograph. It was art depicted in art.

Edgar Degas represented the art of depicting art in the best possible manner. He was the master of ballerina paintings. Dance had been a subject of visual artwork but it was Degas who represented this art form in one of the most exquisite manner. The portrayal of ballet in painting was uniquely captivating when it was expressed in the Impressionist art period.

The movement of the brushes complemented the actual movement of the dancers as they were being observed and painting. Visible brush strokes made exemplified the beauty of ballet. From their costumes, to the forms of their bodies, to the graceful movements they exuded, Impressionism and ballet could be considered as a perfect match. Emphasis on movement was something that was definitive of both the art movement and the dance form.


Impressionism was a movement that was seen in the 19th century wherein artists chose subjects according to what they ordinarily see around them. Traditional impressionism was interested in depicting the everyday scenes of the nearby streets, a quiet meadow or countryside or the look of the cafes and theaters (Hubbard 33).

Most artists in this movement were known for completing a piece of art in a single session. Movements of other periods usually took days, weeks, months and even years in order to complete their art. Some would make sketches and then go back to the studio to complete the picture.

Impressionists look at their subjects as photographers would look at theirs. Impressionist painters see daylight to play a significant role in their art and they try to capture on canvas what was happening in a fleeting moment of time before it disappeared (Hubbard 33).

In order to accomplish the effect of light and how it reflected in objects, they focus on shading and lighting effects rather than the solidness of the shapes of their subjects. Impressionists were distinguished by their obvious brush strokes and indistinct outlines of their subjects, whether they may be people, trees or mountains.

Brush strokes reflect how Impressionist painters had to work very swiftly. Oil painting was usually done by putting small dabs in the canvass and by using short strokes with little color mixing.  These bright and frequently unmixed colors develop into blended shades when the painting was dried and finish (Hubbard 33).

Edouard Manet was one of the famous impressionism artists who focused on landscape paintings. Following the ideals of impressionism, he believed that art must be portrayed in what the artist actually saw in that particular moment in time. French impressionists that included Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro and Edgar Degas painted different things but worked with similar goals in mind. Degas focused on painting dancers and was successful in capturing the beauty of their movement.

The Artist of Dancers


Degas (1834-1917) considered himself as an anti-impressionist because he had a misanthropic nature and had the constant tendency to emphasize (Novotny 199). He prioritized the time he spent in finishing his drawings. He wanted them to be as real as possible however, the style that his brush strokes and colors could not separate him from being classified in the Impressionist movement.

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Edgar Degas and his Passion for Ballet. (2016, Jun 08). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/edgar-degas-and-his-passion-for-ballet/

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