About This Artwork

Edgar Degas
French, 1834-1917

Yellow Dancers (In the Wings), 1874/76

Oil on canvas
28 15/16 x 23 7/16 in. (73.5 x 59.5 cm)
Inscribed at lower right: Degas

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Palmer, Mrs. Bertha P. Thorne, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur M. Wood, and Mrs. Rose M. Palmer, 1963.923

Edgar Degas first painted dancers as an independent subject in 1871. He was to devote almost half his output as an artist to this subject, observing countless performances and rehearsals at the Paris Opéra. Here he placed the viewer in the wings, as if among the elite Opéra subscribers who roamed and socialized backstage. Dance subjects allowed Degas to contemporize his lifelong interest in showing the human body in complex movement, shifting the scene from ancient history to modern Paris. He finished and signed the present canvas in time for the second Impressionist exhibition, in April 1876.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Second Impressionist Exhibition, April 1876, cat. 47.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, June 1–November 1, 1933, cat. 283.

Northampton, Mass., The Smith College Museum of Art, Edgar Degas: Paintings, Drawings, Pastels, Sculpture, November 28–December 18, 1933, cat. 2.

Springfield, Mass., Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, From David to Cézanne: Paintings and Drawings, February 9–March 10, 1935, cat. 12.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, French Painting from David to Toulouse-Lautrec: Loans from French and American Museums and Collections, February 6–March 26, 1941, cat. 40 (ill.).

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Works By Edgar Degas, February 5–March 9, 1947, cat. 33.

Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Trésors Impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27–August 31, 1980, cat. 7.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Degas in The Art Institute of Chicago, July 19–September 23, 1984, cat. 22 (ill.).

Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, The Impressionist Tradition: Masterpieces from The Art Institute of Chicago, October 18–December 17, 1985, cat. 30; traveled to Fukuoka, Art Museum, January 5–February 2, 1986 and Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, March 4–April 13, 1986.

Leningrad, State Hermitage Museum and Moscow, State Pushkin Museum, From Delacroix to Matisse: Great French Paintings from the 19th Century to the Beginning of the 20th Century from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago, February-August 1988, cat. 6.

Detroit Institute of Arts, Degas and the Dance, October18–January 12, 2003, cat. 76 (ill.); traveled to Philadelphia, Museum of Art, February16–May 11, 2003.

London, Tate Britain, Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec: London and Paris 1870-1910, October 5, 2005-January 15, 2006, cat. 26 (ill.), traveled to Washington, DC, The Phillips Collection, February 18-May 14, 2006, shown in London only.

Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil, "Degas, the Universe of an Artist," May 16–August 20, 2006.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 39 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Degas: At the Track, On the Stage," July 1, 2015-February 26, 2016, no cat.

Publication History

Emile Porcheron, “Promenades d’un flâneur: Les Impressionnistes,” Le Soleil (April 4, 1876), pp. 2-3, reprinted in Ruth Berson, The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886: Documentation vol. I (San Francisco, 1996), pp. 102-103.

Armand Silvestre, “Exposition de la rue Le Peletier,” L’Opinion nationale, April 2, 1876, p. 3, reprinted in Ruth Berson, The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886: Documentation vol. I (San Francisco, 1996), pp. 109-110.

J.-K. Huysmans, “L’Exposition des Indépendants en 1880,” in L’Art Moderne (Paris, 1883), p. 127.

J. B. Manson, The Life and Work of Edgar Degas (London, 1927), p. 47.

George Slocombe, “The Artist as Misanthrope,” Coronet (April 1938), p. 20 (ill.).

Paul André Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre vol. 2 (Paris, 1946-49), no. 512.

Theodore Reff, “Some Unpublished Letters of Degas,” Art Bulletin, 50, 1 (March 1968), p. 90.

William Gaunt, Impressionism: A Visual History (New York, 1970), p. 224.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (New York, 1970), pp. 88-89 (ill).

Franco Russoli, L’Opera completa di Degas (Milan, 1970), no. 726.

John Rewald, “Theo van Gogh, Goupil, and the Impressionists,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, (February 1973), p. 88, fig. 35.

George T. Shackelford, Degas: The Dancers, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1984), pp. 111-112, pg. 113, fig. 5.1.

Maurice Guillaud, ed., Degas: Form and Space (Paris, 1984), p. 172, fig. 148.

Charles S. Moffett, The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, exh. cat. (The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986), pp. 149, fig. 3, 146, 161, no. 47.

Jean Sutherland Boggs, ed., Degas, exh. cat. (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988), pp. 214-215, fig. 109.

Ruth Berson, The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886: Documentation (San Francisco, 1996), vol. 1 pp. 48, 86, 103, 109, 290, vol. 2, pp. 35, 49 (ill.).

Jean Sutherland Boggs, Degas, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1996, pp. 28-30, no. 10 (ill.).

Richard Kendall, Degas: Beyond Impressionism, exh. cat. (London, National Gallery of Art, 1996), pp. 127-28, fig. 138.

Jean Sutherland Boggs, Degas (Chicago, 1996), pp. 28-30, ill., 108, no. 10.

Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 2000), p. 48 (ill.).

The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 39, p. 90 (ill.).

Ownership History

Shipped by the artist to the art dealer, Charles W. Deschamps, London, around May 15, 1876 [see letter of May 15, 1876 from Degas to Deschamps, Collection Frits Lugt, Institut Néerlandais, Paris, published in Reff 1968]. James Staats Forbes, London; sold to Goupil et Cie, Paris on July 25, 1891 [see Goupil-Boussod & Valadon Successeurs Ledgers, cited in John Rewald 1973]; sold to Potter Palmer (died 1902), Chicago on September 18, 1891 [see Goupil Ledgers citied above]; by descent in the Palmer family; given to the Art Institute, 1963.

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