Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917
Title: Two Harlequins
Date: c.1885
Medium: Pastel on paper
32 x 24 cm
Signed: lower left: Degas
Credit Line: Bequeathed, Mr E. Martyn, 1924
Object Number: NGI.2741
DescriptionThe juxtaposition of brilliantly costumed performers with the mundane interiors of rehearsal spaces was a constant source of fascination to Degas.

Here Degas depicts two harlequins wearing the colourful diamond-patterned leotards, black masks and dark caps associated with their Commedia dell’Arte characters. The chief characteristics traditionally ascribed to the Harlequin were agility and acrobatic skill. Here however Degas turns once again to the favoured motif of dancers resting, mid-rehearsal. Their gestures convey an ease and intimacy indicative of the long hours that dancers spent living and working in each other’s company.

Exhibition HistoryImpressionist Interiors, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 10 May - 10 August 2008

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