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Edgar Degas

At the Theatre: Woman Seated in the Balcony


Edgar Degas
Paris 1834 – Paris 1917


At the Theatre: Woman Seated in the Balcony


About 1877-1880


Oil on canvas


24.5 x 32.7 cm


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 1999.18


Western Art

Edgar Degas was greatly inspired by the world of dance, theatre and the café-concert, and was interested in artists both offstage and on. Absorbed in a spectacle outside the frame, the woman shown in this painting resembles Ellen Andrée, the model whom Degas was particularly fond of at the time. Executed in the late 1870s, the shadowy setting is skillfully illuminated by the bright splashes of light and the model’s accessories, notably her white lace handkerchief and eye-catching turquoise hat, which alludes to the world of millinery in which Degas had a fervent interest. This painting is also distinguished by its impressive provenance: the Parisian art dealer Jacques Seligmann purchased it at the artist’s first studio sale in May, 1918. In New York in 1921, the canvas came into the possession of the dealer Paul Reinhardt, who resold it to the Durand-Ruel gallery in 1930. In 1943, the work became part of the illustrious collection of the writer Erich Maria Remarque and his wife, the actor Paulette Goddard. The painting was generously given to the Museum by the Montreal collectors Michal and Renata Hornstein in 1999.

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