EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917) Danseuses et contrebasse 9 x 6 3/4 in (23.2 x 17 cm) (Painted circa 1879-1880) India Phillips
Sold for $485,000 in New York, 4 November 2014

Art Market Review

Issue 9, July - December 2014

Page 12

The hallmarks of Degas' mastery as an Impressionist are at play in Danseuses et contrebasse which was painted around 1880. He reveals a scene which is both photographic and fleeting, in a manner entirely foreign to the traditional salon painter. Rather than capturing a quiet moment of time standing still, Degas chooses a moment of transition. Although he only began taking photographs as part of his creative process in the later part of his career, the influence of the medium is evident even in the 1870s. The boldly arranged composition, with the strong diagonal line of the double bass disrupting the presentation of the dancers, strikes a very modern note, an emphasis on asymmetry and strong intense diagonals more often found in his late pastel drawings and paintings. The scene is fraught with tension and distraction, a dizzying clamour entirely intentional for an artist immersed in the speed and intensity of Paris at the end of the 19th century. Breaking away from the principles of balance and scale as espoused by the Academy and Salon painters of France in the 18th and 19th centuries, Degas achieves a cumulative effect that is entirely new and exciting.

India Phillips
Director of Impressionist and Modern Art

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