Degas and the Dance: The Painter and the Petits Rats, Perfecting Their Art

by Susan Goldman Rubin

Artist Edgar Degas created more than 1,000 studies of ballet dancers and ballet students... read more

Artist Edgar Degas created more than 1,000 studies of ballet dancers and ballet students between 1855 and 1905. He spent many hours in ballet studios watching young dancers being trained. These children were known as petits rats because of their hard, exhausting lives. Susan Goldman Rubin deftly describes the world of the petits rats and Degas’ own exacting work recreating that world on canvas in a handsome volume that underscores the demands of being an artist in any medium. “Degas drew the same poses again and again, just as the dancers repeated their positions and stops again and again.” Degas’ sympathy for the young dancers was apparent in his behavior toward them, and especially in his work. Numerous paintings and sketches by Degas are reproduced in full color. Each reproduction is dated and its subject described so that readers will understand what they are seeing, which is often a reflection of what the author has described in her narrative. (Ages 8-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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