National Gallery of Art Washington

Edgar Degas

Degas at the Opéra

Curator: Henri Loyrette, Leila Jarbouai, Marine Kisiel, Kimberly Jones (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

An exuberant display of fecund imagination and keen observation, Edgar Degas’s renowned images of the Paris Opéra are among the most sophisticated and visually compelling works he ever created. Celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Opéra’s founding, Degas at the Opéra will present approximately 100 of the artist’s best-known and beloved works in a range of media, including paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculpture. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalog.

Degas (1834–1917) is celebrated as the painter of dancers, a subject that dominated his art for nearly four decades. Although there have been many exhibitions celebrating his love of the ballet, this will be the first to consider his enduring fascination with the opéra. A music lover and regular visitor to performances, Degas explored both the public spaces of the Paris Opéra—auditorium, stage, and boxes—as well as more private ones, including dance studios and backstage. He was friends with many of the people he depicted in his paintings, from dancers, singers, and orchestra musicians to the dark-suited subscribers.

The Opéra also fueled some of Degas’s most daring technical innovations, including his first monotype, The Ballet Master (c. 1876), and his wax statue Little Dancer Aged Fourteen(1881), which revolutionized sculpture.

The exhibition is curated by Degas expert Henri Loyrette with Kimberly A. Jones, curator of 19th-century French paintings, National Gallery of Art; Leïla Jarbouai, graphic arts curator, Musée d'Orsay; and Marine Kisiel, curator, Musée d'Orsay.

National Gallery of Art

From 1 March 2020 to 12 October 2020
Image for Edgar Degas
Artwork(s) loaned
  • Three nude dancers in arabesque

    Edgar Degas (1834—1917)

    Three nude dancers in arabesque circa 1892-1895
    Charcoal and fade on paper