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Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
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Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas

  • This exceptional pastel portrays the most iconic subject of Edgar Degas' peerless oeuvre
  • It is the stand-out work of his famed 1899 series entitled Russian Dancers
  • Published in important literature and exhibited widely, this pastel is a rare piece of art history
  • View the Dossier
  • Get complete item description here
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Item No. 31-8597

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Description
Edgar Degas
1834-1917 | French

Ukrainian Dancers

Stamped "Degas" (lower left)
Charcoal and pastel on tracing paper mounted on cardboard

“I’m going to show you the orgies of color that I’m working on at the moment.” - Edgar Degas to Julie Manet, on his Russian Dancers series, 1899

Edgar Degas’ dancers require little by way of introduction — no artist has more adeptly captured the essence of the female form in. . .
Read more
Edgar Degas
1834-1917 | French

Ukrainian Dancers

Stamped "Degas" (lower left)
Charcoal and pastel on tracing paper mounted on cardboard

“I’m going to show you the orgies of color that I’m working on at the moment.” - Edgar Degas to Julie Manet, on his Russian Dancers series, 1899

Edgar Degas’ dancers require little by way of introduction — no artist has more adeptly captured the essence of the female form in fervent motion. This exceptionally rare pastel, titled Ukrainian Dancers, stands out as a pivotal work within the artist’s celebrated series on these traditional folk dancers. It has been both published in significant literature and exhibited extensively, serving as a testament to Degas’ unparalleled status as the master of depicting the dancing female form.

Ukrainian Dancers showcases Degas’ extraordinary skill in portraying the dynamic energy of dancers, alive with layers of luminous color and ethereal vibrancy. The artist’s masterful and bold application of pastel in this composition marks a hallmark of his work during the 1890s, a period when he embraced this expressive medium for its spontaneity. Among the eighteen works in his Russian Dancers series from 1899, this pastel shines brightly, distinguished by its exceptional use of color, texture and movement. As the masterpiece of the series, it was given prominence in its own room during the groundbreaking 2017 exhibition Degas: ‘Russian Dancers’ and the Art of Pastel at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Several other pastels and sketches from this important series reside in prestigious institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery in London. 

Degas found inspiration in Ukrainian folk dancers during his visits to Parisian cabarets, where lively folk performances gained popularity following the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894. These performers, with their unique vitality and visceral exuberance, offered an intriguing contrast to the graceful and restrained ballerinas Degas frequently depicted. This composition vibrates with the energy and spirit the artist perceived in these performances, expressed through emphatic line work and a bold color palette. A thatched cottage on the horizon adds cultural authenticity to the lush pastoral scene.

Ukrainian Dancers emphasizes Degas’ relentless pursuit of new modes of expression and experimentation, characteristics that defined his later works. Originally acquired by the artist’s brother, René de Gas, at the inaugural Atelier Degas sale in 1918, this work has since been celebrated and displayed worldwide.

Circa 1899

Paper: 22 7/8” high by 29 7/8" wide (58.1 x 75.88 cm)
Frame: Approx. 36“ high by 46“ wide (91.44 x 116.84 cm)

View the Dossier

Provenance:
Atelier Degas: 1st Atelier Degas Sale, 1918, acquired there by the artist’s brother
René de Gas (1845-1921); his estate sale, 1927
Dieterle, Paris
Albert Sancholle Henraux (1881-1953), Paris
Private collection, Paris
Sam Salz (ca. 1894-1981), New York
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander M. Lewyt, New York, acquired from above 1953
Private collection
Private collection, acquired from Wildenstein, New York, 2008

Literature:
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Catalogue des tableaux, pastels et dessins par Edgar Degas et provenant de son atelier, May 6-8, 1918, lot 270, p. 143 (illustrated)
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Vente René De Gas, November 10, 1927, lot 38 (illustrated)
P. A. Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre, Paris, 1946, III, p. 688-689, no. 1187 (illustrated)
L. Browse, Degas Dancers, London, 1949, p. 413, cited under no. 243
E.P. Janis, “Shorter Notices: Degas Drawings" [review of Saint Louis exhibition, 1967], Burlington Magazine, CIX, No. 772, July 1967, p. 414
F. Russoli and F. Minervino, L’Opera complete di Degas, Milan, 1970, p. 134, no. 1076 (illustrated)
J. Lassaigne and F. Minervino, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Degas, Paris, 1974, no. 1076 (illustrated)
J. Manet, Journal (1893-1899): Sa jeunesse parmi les peintres impressionnistes et les hommes de lettres, Paris, 1979, p. 238, entry of Saturday, July 1, 1899 [English ed., Growing up with the Impressionists: The Diary of Julie Manet (trans. and ed. By R.deB. Roberts and J. Roberts), London, 1987, p. 177]
25 Great Masters of Modern Art: Degas, Tokyo, 1980, p. 124, 58 and 124 (illustrated)
R. McMullen, Degas: His Life, Times, and Work, Boston, 1984, pp. 432-433
Tübingen, Kunsthalle, and Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Edgar Degas: Pastelle, Ölskizzen, Zeichnungen (cat. by G. Adriani), 1984, pp. 395-396, cited under no. 223
P. Bjurström, French Drawings: Nineteenth Century, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 1986, n.p., cited under no. 1497
L.R. Bixenstine, “Edgar Degas’ Russian Dancers Series (1897-99): Their Dating, Pastel Technique, and Their  Context within His Late Period (1885-1908)” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University), 1987, pp. 11, 14, 38, 42-44, 48, 52-53, 58-60, 63-64, 73, 91-98, 104, illustrated p. 242, pl. VII
R. Thomson, “The Degas Exhibition in Ottawa and New York,” Burlington Magazine, CXXXI, No. 1033, April 1989, p. 295
G.T.M. Shackelford, “Degas, la danse et la musique,” Connaissance des Arts, 1993, illustrated p. 44 R. Kendall, Degas Landscapes, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, 1994, p. 237-238 (fig. 208, caption includes incorrect Lemoisne number), 292, note 40, illustrated p. 230 (fig. 203) (color detail of landscape), 237 (fig. 208)
Singapore, Museum of Art, and elsewhere, Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation (cat. by R.R. Brettell, assisted by N. H. Lee), 1999-2000, pp. 34, 36, note 5, cited under nos. 8 and 9
Detroit, Institute of Arts, and Philadelphia, Museum of Art, Degas and the Dance (cat. by J. DeVonyar and R. Kendall), 2002-2003, cited in essay, “The Last Dancers,” p. 288, note 97

Exhibited:
New York, Wildenstein, Degas, April 7 – May 7, 1960, no. 64 (illustrated)
Saint Louis, City Art Museum, Drawings by Degas (cat. by J.S. Boggs), January 20-February 26, 1967, no. 155 (entry by J.S. Boggs); also cited p. 226. Illustrated frontispiece (color). Exhibition traveled to Philadelphia, Museum of Art, March 10-April 30, 1967; and Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, May 18-June 25, 1967
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Edgar Degas, November 1- December 3, 1978, no. 50; also cited in essay by T.H. Reff, “Degas and the Dance,” n.p. (illustrated)
Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Degas, February 9-May 16, 1988, no. 370; also cited in essay by J.S. Boggs, “Les denières années, 1890-1912,” p. 485, and on p.581. Illustrated p. 584 (color). Exhibition traveled to Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, June 16-August 28, 1988; and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 27, 1988-January 8, 1989 [English language ed. of cat.; same pagination]
London, David Bathurst, Ltd., Paintings, Pastels and Drawings by Edgar Degas, June 12-July 5, 1991, no. 24 (illustrated)
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Degas, (cat. by R. Pickvance), June 19-November 21, 1993, no. 56; also cited pp. 87-88, 308 and 329 (illustrated)
London, The National Gallery, Degas: Beyond Impressionism (cat. by R. Kendall), May 22 – August 26, 1996, no. 90; also cited pp. 104, 278, illustrated p. 281. Exhibition traveled to Chicago, The Art Institute, September 28, 1996-January 5, 1997 [pastel exhibited at Chicago venue only]
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement (cat. by J. DeVonyar and R. Kendall), September 17, 2011-December 11, 2011, p. 234-235 (illustrated)
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Edgar Degas: The Late Work (cat. by M. Schwander), September 30, 2012 – January 27, 2013, cited p. 80-81 and 257 (illustrated)
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Degas: Russian Dancers and the Art of the Pastel, May 19, 2015 – October 11, 2015 and May 3, 2016 to October 23, 2016 (on loan through 29 April 2017)
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Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
Maker: Degas, Edgar
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: France
Type: Paintings
Style: Impressionism
Depth: 4.5 in. (11.43 cm)
Width: 42.63 in. (108.27 cm)
Height: 35.75 in. (90.81 cm)
Canvas Width: 29.500 in. (74.93 cm)
Canvas Height: 22.250 in. (56.52 cm)
Ukrainian Dancers by Edgar Degas
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Buy with Confidence

At M.S. Rau, we are committed to building a long-term, rewarding relationship with each and every client. That’s why your purchase is backed by our 125% guarantee.

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