Wednesday, June 7, 2017

19th-century Tutus in Two Dimensions

Edgar Degas
Dancer Stretching
ca. 1882-85
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Edgar Degas
ca. 1884-85
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Edgar Degas
 Examen de Danse
Denver Art Museum


Nor Goddesse was thy Mother, nor the source
   Of thy high blood renowned Dardanus,
   But some Hyrcanian Tigresse was thy Nource,
   Out of the stony Loynes of Caucasus
   Descended, cruell and perfidious.
   For with what hopes should I thy hopes yet cover,
   Did my teares make thee sigh? Or bend, but thus,
   Thine Eyes? Or sadness for my griefe discover?
Or if thou couldst not Love, to pity yet a Lover?

Whom first accuse I since these Loves began?
   Jove is unjust, Juno her charge gives o'er,
   Whom may a Woman trust? I tooke this man
   Homelesse, a desp'rate wrack upon my shoare,
   And fondly gave him half the Crowne I wore:
   His Ships rebuilt, t'his men new lives I lent.
   And now the Fates, the Oracles, what more?
   (It makes me mad) Jove's sonne on purpose sent
Brings him forsooth a menace through the Firmament.

As if the Gods their blissefull rest did breake
   With thinking on thy Voyages. But I
   Nor stop you, nor confute the words you spake.
   Goe, chase on rowling billowes Realmes that fly,
   With ficle windes uncertaine Italy.
   Some courteous Rock (if Heav'n just curses heare)
   Will be Revenger of my injury:
   When thou perceiving the sad Fate drew neere,
Shalt Dido, Dido, call; who surely will be there.

For when cold death shall part with dreary swoone
   My Soule and Flesh; my ghost, where ere thou bee,
   Shall haunt thee with dim Torch, and light thee downe
   To thy dark conscience: I'll be Hell to thee,
   And this glad newes will make Hell Heav'n to mee.

 from Book 4 of The Aeneid, translated by Richard Fanshawe (1647)

Edgar Degas
pastel over monotype
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Edgar Degas
Dancers in a Group
oil on paper, mounted on canvas
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Edgar Degas
Before the Performance
oil on paper, mounted on canvas
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Edgar Degas
ca. 1894-1904
Princeton University Art Museum

Edgar Degas
Ballet at the Paris Opéra
pastel over monotype
Art Institute of Chicago

Edgar Degas
Two Dancers
ca. 1905
Albertina, Vienna

Edgar Degas
Three Dancers in Blue Tutus and Red Bodices
Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland

Edgar Degas
Dancers at the Barre
ca. 1900
oil on canvas
Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
ca. 1899
Toledo Museum of Art

Edgar Degas
Two Dancers
ca. 1898
Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden

Edgar Degas
Dancer in her dressing room
ca. 1874-84
Cincinnati Art Museum


O happy bird! sole heir to thy own dust!
Death, to whose force all other creatures must
Submit, saves thee. Thy ashes make thee rise;
'Tis not thy nature, but thy age that dies.
Thou hast seen all! and to the times that run
Thou art as great a witness, as the sun.
Thou saw'st the deluge, when the sea outvied
The land, and drown'd the mountains with the tide.
What year the straggling Phaeton did fire
The world thou know'st. And no plagues can conspire
Against thy life; alone thou do'st arise
Above mortality; the destinies
Spin not thy days out with their fatal clue;
They have no law, to which thy life is due.

 from The Phoenix by the Roman poet Claudian, translated by Henry Vaughan (1622-95)