Oil on canvas
Inv. No. SG 237
69 × 49 cm
Degas had come to the depiction of everyday life via history painting; at the same time the portrait became his metier. His first work on the musician theme, now in the Musée d’Orsay, accordingly reflects his interest in the subjects’ physiognomies as well as their performance. In this second variation we see only the backs of their heads; the instruments are blocked from view. Degas radically reworked this painting several times, cutting the canvas here, extending it there, thus making space for the stage and his new chief protagonists – the dancers. The spotlight shimmers in their white and pink costumes. The dancers will have a formative impact on Degas’s work and lead him to fame.
From 27 September 2014 to 18 January 2015 the painting is in Museum Folkwang in Essen in the exhibition "Monet, Gauguin, van Gogh … Inspiration Japan”.