Four Dancers Edgar Degas Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The captivating presence of Four Dancers can only be achieved through the gentle technique of renowned French painter Edgar Degas. As the artist was mystified by the immense beauty of ballerinas, they remained as one of the main focal points of many of Degas's work.

The artist commonly painted the ballerina's backstage before a recital to capture the candid form they were in. Essentially Degas desired to paint candid portraits of ballerina’s before they went on stage to seize the genuine form that they were in, as that held the exact beauty. Yet, while this remained as the most prominent analysis for Edgar Degas's work, it is evident that a high majority of his paintings showcasing ballerina are of their reversing their dance. The painting of Four Dancers holds an incredibly rough appeal to it as it showcases an array of colour, form and style. As an artist who is well known for his painterly style, veering away from classic traditionalism, Degas worked to incorporate as much action within his work as possible.

The medium of the painting is pastel. Degas uses linear strokes downwards with the pastel to paint the bodies of the women, and curved strokes to colour the background of the canvas. This was a strategic act on behalf of Degas as to create two different textures allowed for the artist to break the canvas up. The messy style of Baroque is founded in these altered strokes in order to create clear distinctions between different areas of the art. If both the background and body of the ballerina’s was conceived in a linear stroke, the viewer would hold more difficulty in analyzing the painting.

The group is held closely together as they touch one another in a line. The ballerina at the front has her body faced towards the viewer yet looks to the floor as her arm gently sweeps her shoulder. Three other ballerinas align behind her as they open their bodies in dance. Degas uses a multitude of different warm and cool tones to colour the canvas. The ballerina's costumes are lightly coloured in shades of red, blue, white, and most significantly green. Yet, these tones do not follow a specific colour scheme as rather Degas mixes opposites colours together such as red and green.

The artist continues to blend different shades amongst one another through the background of the painting as the peachy yellow background is accentuated by circular spots of blue and green. Alongside, the burgundy brown shades of the ballerina's hair upsets the colour schedule of the painting even more as it does not align with one another. Yet, the viewer is able to witness that Degas attempted to colour the bottom of the ballerina's skirts in a blue and green colour as the shades blend into one another allowing for harsh lines to diapers.

As those who are familiar with the texture of pastels, they are incredibly easily able to blend into one another. Degas however decided to use the front end of the pastels in linear strokes to illustrate the bodies of the ballerinas and does not go in to blend after. Similarly, Degas uses the pastels sideways to colour the background of the artwork, again reframing from using his fingers to blend in the colours as one. The artist brilliantly finds another medium to use the pastels in, straying away from merging colours as one. Edgar Degas remains as one of the most prominent French artists of his time as he praised the Baroque style while his contemporaries were already veering away from the style. The Four Dancers showcases Degas's innovative styles using different tools to highlight his artistic abilities and precise characteristics within his work.