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Seated Dancer Rubbing Her Leg, c. 1878

Edgar Degas

French, 1834-1917
Charcoal with white and dark brown pastel on gray-brown laid paper
17-5/8 x 12-1/4 in. irreg. (44.8 x 31.1 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Degas developed a near-obsession with the motif of the seated dancer rubbing her leg or adjusting her shoe. His interest in this pose, at once intimate and awkward, sums up his fascination with life backstage at the ballet—the grit behind the glamor. This single-figure study is squared off in charcoal to facilitate the figure’s enlargement and transfer to a broader composition, possibly a pastel titled Dancers Resting today in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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