Dancers in the Classroom

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In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Degas painted a series of wide horizontal canvases showing ballerinas stretching and resting in a practice room. These works capture the dancers’ grace, concentration, and physical exhaustion. The artist constructed the composition of this painting with great care—the position of the outstretched leg of the girl adjusting her stocking, for example, was changed at least nine times. The expanse of empty floor in the foreground and the plunging perspective are particularly daring.


Jacques Drake del Castillo, Paris (until 1903, sold to Boussod, Valadon, 10 Jan. 1903, as Le foyer de la danse); [Boussod, Valadon, Paris, sold to Glaenzer, 10 Jan. 1903];¹ [Eugene Glaenzer and Co., New York, 1903–6, sold to Boussod, Valadon, 30 June 1906]; [Boussod, Valadon, Paris, sold to Hoentschel, 30 June 1906];² Georges Hoentschel, Paris (from 1906; d. 1915);³ [Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, in 1924, sold to Knoedler, Paris, Feb. 1924]; [Knoedler, Paris, in 1924, sold to Clark, Aug. 1924];4 Robert Sterling Clark (1924–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

1. See Goupil Stock Books, book 15, p. 98, no. 27863.
2. Ibid., p. 164, no. 28847.
3. P.-A. Lemoisne, Degas et son Oeuvre, 1946–49, lists Samuel Courtauld, London, as an owner after Hoentschel (see vol. 1, p. 116, and vol. 3, p. 470, no. 820), but correspondence with the Courtauld Institute confirms that this painting was not in Courtauld’s collection. See letter dated 3 Nov. 1969, from Fiona Morgan to P. O. Troutman, in the Clark’s curatorial file.
4. There is no invoice to Clark from Knoedler. A letter of 19 Dec. 1969 from Knoedler, London, in the Clark’s curatorial file states that the branch in Paris bought this painting from the Galerie Barbazanges in Feb. 1924 and sold it to Clark the following August.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

French, 1834–1917

Dancers in the Classroom

c. 1880

Oil on canvas

15 1/2 x 34 13/16 in. (39.4 x 88.4 cm) Frame: 23 5/8 x 43 x 2 3/8 in. (60 x 109.2 x 6 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1924