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In the Wings

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Jean Louis Forain
French, 1852-1931

About this artwork

In this backstage view of a Parisian opera house, ballerinas field advances from elegantly dressed male patrons, who approach them in pairs. The stoic dancer in the foreground, chin up and eyes downcast, absorbs the penetrating gaze of one large man while another looms just behind her, so close that his black top hat overlaps with her orange headdress. In 19th-century Paris, male abonnés (season ticket holders) had special access to a back room where they could socialize while watching the ballerinas warm up. Many took advantage of this privilege to sexually exploit the young dancers, who were well aware that their careers depended upon the good favor of this donor class.


Currently Off View


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Jean Louis Forain


In the Wings


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Inscribed upper right: Forain 1899


60.5 × 73.8 cm (23 3/16 × 29 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection

Reference Number


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