Three Dancers in an Exercise Hall 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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Edgar Degas is well known for painting endless ballerina pieces. These pastel and oil on canvas artworks illustrate his fascination for the dance. The pastel on paper piece illustrates three young women practicing their form prior to a performance. The artist is popular for showcasing ballerinas performing onstage, alongside pieces illustrating the behind the scenes.

The stunning impressionistic piece showcases the artist's adoration for the art. The Three Dancers In An Exercise Hall resemble the artist's contemporaries Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. These three artists had a focal influence in the impressionism art movement that took hold near the end of the 19th century. For examples of Degas' colleague's work, check out the likes of Luncheon of the Boating Party, Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette and Two Sisters on the Terrace by Renoir plus Water Lilies, Haystacks and Garden at Sainte-Adresse by Monet.

Edgar Degas is a brilliant artist as his work does not carry a focal point to draw the viewer's gaze to. Rather, the genre painting brings equal attention to the three young women. The woman to the left stands up high on her tippy-toes with her feet pointed towards the floor. Her straight legs elongate her presence as her left leg stands in front of the other. The woman is dressed in a white sheer dress that opens up towards a romantic tutu to her knees. This style dress was the prominent one worn by ballerinas during the 19th century. The dress fits tightly around the woman’s bust, exposing the top half of her breasts. The right top part slightly resembles a corset that tightly hugs the woman’s waist.

A thin black ribbon covers the waist of the woman to accentuate against the white fabric. The artist's brilliant brushwork is showcased as the viewer is able to feel the fabric of the dress. With swift brush strokes beginning at the woman's waist and towards the end of her dress, lines of chiffon fabric are translated through the canvas. The top of the woman’s dress falls off of her shoulders in a flirty design. Similarly to the ribbon along the woman's waist, another one covers her neck in a bow. The woman's hair is placed upwards in a bun keeping the hair away from her face.

The woman stands up straight and throws her hands over her head in a circular motion. A classic ballerina formation that Degas so immensely adored. While the woman works on her dance, the ballerina in the centre is focussed on something completely different. The woman bends forward ever so slightly to fix her ballet slipper. It's a common element within the artist work to showcase ballerinas fixing a part of their costume. The woman lifts her right leg over her left knee to balance and fix the slipper. She is dressed in the exact same attire as the other ballerina. Her right-hand lifts behind her back to help her balance. Even as she attempts to adjust her shoe, her left legs stand in the first ball position.

The woman on the right looks into her colleague fixing her slipper. She bends her right knee and points her toes towards the floor. She as well is dressed in the white-teal dress. However, as the viewer is able to see her back, a large pink bow hangs off of her waist. Another black ribbon holds her braid together as one. The setting of the artwork gives off a Parisian aesthetic with the large windows overlooking the buildings. Two large cream curtains hang to the side framing the grand windows. The wooden floor beneath the ballerina's feet is painted in an almond tone. The artist lightens the background as it's closer to the open window. The large building in the background is showcased in a classic impressionism style in pastel shades of red, blue and green.