The Atelier Degas, Paris, with the atelier stamp (Lugt 657) stamped on the verso;
The third Vente Degas, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 7-9 April 1919, part of lot 102, sold with three other drawings for 1,450 francs;
Paul Cassirer, Berlin;
Acquired by a private collector in the 1920s
Thence by descent to a private collection, Germany;
Private Collection, United Kingdom
About half of Degas’ total oeuvre are ballet subjects, a theme he first began to treat regularly in the early 1870’s, and which he continued to study in hundreds of paintings, drawings, pastels, sculptures, prints and photographs right up until the very end of his long career. In his drawings of dancers, Degas was to develop a huge repertoire of poses, which he used and reused in his paintings and sculptures. These drawings were made both behind the scenes at the Opéra itself and, more frequently, from the model posed in his studio. He appears to have been much less interested in the actual performances than in the dancers themselves, who are often portrayed at rest or exercising behind the scenes. Degas seems to have had a natural affection for these little dancers, known as the ballet ‘rats’; girls from poor families who entered the Opéra at the ages of seven or eight and spent ten or more years in classes, training for the corps de ballet. He studied and drew their long and arduous hours of practice, and seems to have sympathized with them and admired their dedication.