Orchestra Musicians 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 painting produced by the French artist Edgar Degas gives the viewer a sense of what the audience truly saw during a performance.

When Degas usually produced his artistic pieces of ballerinas performing, he usually does so as if the viewer is standing directly on stage and watching the show. This perspective is evident throughout most of the artist's prominent pieces, including Dancer With A Bouquet Bowing, Dancers In Green, Three Ballet Dancers, and Dancers In Pink And Green. All of these stunning paintings allow for the artist to incorporate more detail and give a clearer outlook. Yet, Musicians In The Orchestra is produced for the viewer to look at the performance as Degas usually did. Right beneath the stage was usually a grand orchestra that played the music for the show. The viewers sat in the layers of rows after the orchestra. It's evident that the viewer of the performance was seated right behind the orchestra and had a visual of both the performers and ballerinas. While it seems as if viewers weren't able to receive a great view of the ballet performance, the angle on which the piece is formed is based on the best seats in the room.

Near the top part of the stage, a group of ballet dancers perform for the audience. While the piece does not have a focal point that draws the viewer's attention, the ballerina to the left is the one portrayed in most detail. The performer stands closest to the edge of the stage and is manifested in careful detail by Degas. She is dressed in a classic romantic tutu, that French ballerinas wore at the time. Her stunning white costume flows towards her knees in endless layers of chiffon puffy fabric. The top part of her dress exposes her chest, while covering her shoulders. The young ballerina holds her hands out to the sides of her dress as if she is preparing to bow. The ballerina's dress is accessorized in light pink flowers stitched onto her dress. Small green elements are also visible that seem to resemble leaves. The woman's hair is tighter in a bun on her head, with a matching pink flower.

To the left of the woman, another group of roughly six ballerinas stand on stage. While all of their bodies are tilted sideways facing each other, it's quite evident that their faces are looking towards their colleague bowing in thanks to the generosity of the audience. Based on this context, it seems as if each ballerina is taking her turn to head to the front of the stage and bow. Yet, while the ballerinas may be the most lively element within the piece, it is the musicians that are truly captivating. These men are seated near one another as they hold their instruments and perform. While it seems as if the man near the left is playing a violin, it is hard to make out what the rest are playing. The viewer can spot a small glance of their sheet music in between the men. It seems as if the artist was attempting to send a message through his work. Degas was immensely captivated by ballerinas throughout his career. Yet, he never took into account the true significance of the band that played beneath. Degas adored sharing behind the scene shots to his viewers. Musicians In The Orchestra give the viewer a sense of all of the other elements that occur behind the scene. This gave Degas a genuine purpose within his work that illustrated a story.