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The Ballet Class

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917

Made in France, Europe

c. 1880

Oil on canvas

32 3/8 x 30 1/4 inches (82.2 x 76.8 cm) Framed: 41 1/2 × 39 5/8 × 2 5/8 inches (105.4 × 100.6 × 6.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1937

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In this everyday scene from backstage at the Paris Opéra, a ballet instructor observes two young dancers while a mother sits reading in the foreground. Degas spent a great deal of time in the corridors and rehearsal rooms of the Opéra, where he would have seen mothers like this one managing their young daughters' careers. Girls began official ballet classes at age seven or eight in hopes of becoming premiere dancers by their late teens.

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