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Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas
French, 1834–1917
The Entrance of the Masked Dancers
c. 1879
Pastel on paper
Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1927

  "What do I love about this pastel? Beyond its spontaneity, its deliberate casualness, the freshness of its colors, the ambiguity of its space, and the contrast between the beautifully drawn faces and the shocking abstraction of the background, there is something uncanny in its construction: it is the unsettling way in which Degas draws me into the picture plane, tempting my eye with sensuous surfaces and textures, only to divulge a top-hatted gentleman in the background, half–concealed by the scenery. Degas situates me on the opposite side of the stage in a similar role, as an interloper in the dancers' private space. It is disconcerting to realize that the only figure that seems to meet my gaze is my counterpart peering out from the wings."

Jim Ganz
Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, Massachusetts


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