Dancer in Green


Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green) is a work that was produced by Edgar Degas in 1877-1879 and is located in the Thyssen-Bornemisze Museum in Madrid.


This impressionistic piece was made using pastels and gouache on paper. It depicts ballet dancers on stage during a performance. Only one figure is shown in full while the rest are cropped out of frame. The dancer in focus is positioned off centre. These are techniques are found in photography and Japanese print making, both of which were influences on Degas’ work.

The quick and intense colourful strokes are typical examples of impressionist technique. Degas uses this style to capture the transitory moment of the dancer in motion. The flurry of pastel greens and blues are off set by the contrasting oranges and yellows of the dancers standing on the side of the stage, awaiting their turn to perform. The viewers eye is drawn down the dancers arm from the top right of the picture frame, and is brought into the plumes of green tutus, making the viewer follow the dancers as they would be exiting the stage.  

Did you know?

The motif of the dancer is one which has been explored in depth by Degas and is one of the most common themes in his oeuvre. As a result he is known as the painter of dancers.

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