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January 13th, 2003
Major Exhibition Exploring Degas

A comprehensive exhibition of paintings, works on paper, and sculptures by Edgar Degas (1834– 1917), focused exclusively on the French artist’s fascination with ballet, will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from February 12 through May 11, 2003. Degas and the Dance explores the artist’s extraordinary achievement as an acute observer of the on- and off-stage activities of the dancers of the Paris Opéra. It is the first exhibition to examine fully his work in the vivid context of 19th century ballet, with costume designs, stage sets, and photographs of dancers also included to provide added immediacy and context. More than 135 works by the artist are featured in the exhibition.

The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibition is made possible by ATOFINA and The PNC Financial Services Group. Additional support is provided by the Delaware River Port Authority, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Annenberg Foundation, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Promotional support is provided by NBC 10 WCAU, and AMTRAK.

"It is deeply satisfying to bring this great exhibition to Philadelphia, a city whose strong connection to Paris and to France makes it especially receptive to the brilliant art of Degas," said Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "It’s no coincidence that some of the artist’s greatest admirers were Philadelphians, from his close friend and contemporary, the artist Mary Cassatt, to the legendary curator, collector and Trustee Henry P. McIlhenny. It was he who in 1936 organized the first great Degas exhibition in America for Philadelphia and 50 years later bequeathed his wonderful collection to the Museum, including the beloved bronze sculpture Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen."

"Degas and the Dance assembles many of the most extraordinary works that capture Degas' fascination with the ballet, and brings them together from all over the world," added Joseph J. Rishel, the Museum's Dennis and Gisela Alter Senior Curator of European Painting before 1900. "It takes the visitor directly into the world of the Paris ballet as Degas observed it, offering a new appreciation for one of the greatest artists of the 19th century. It also finds remarkable correspondences with the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections of our Museum, so that visitors can emerge from the exhibition and then see the work of Degas's fellow artists, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who lived and worked in the same area around Montmartre."

The exhibition is drawn from public and private collections in nearly a dozen countries. It features such important paintings as Dancers at the Barre (ca. 1900; The Phillips Collection); Orchestra Musicians (ca. 1880; Stüdtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main); and Yellow Dancers (ca. 1874–76; The Art Institute of Chicago). Also in the exhibition are major pastels, including Two Dancers (ca. 1895–97; The National Museum of Fine Arts, Stockholm) and Dancer Stretching (ca. 1882–85; Kimbell Art Museum). Among the drawings is a rarely seen suite from the National Museum, Belgrade, and sculptures include the Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen (1878–81; cast about 1921) Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Spanish Dancer (ca. 1890; cast about 1921) The Detroit Institute of Arts).

In Degas and the Dance, guest curators Kendall and DeVonyar reveal for the first time the artist's intimate knowledge of the dance and his familiarity with ballet technique; his previously unexplored access to rehearsal rooms and backstage areas; his acquaintances with both stars and students; and the links between Degas' works of art and actual stage productions. After years of research, the curators have been able to identify many of the theaters and rehearsal rooms Degas depicted, helping viewers understand the combination of memory and invention in Degas' dance images. In several works, the individual identities of figures depicted by the artist have come to light. In other works, the actual performances he portrayed are now identified for the first time.

Organized thematically, the exhibition includes sections devoted to Degas' images of the private world of dancers; portraits of famous ballerinas; lessons in the classroom; performances on stage; and encounters between dancers and their admirers. The exhibition also highlights a group of spectacular late oil paintings and pastels that illustrate the boldness of Degas' composition in his final years, mirroring the artist's own description of some of his late works as "orgies of color."

The exhibition is on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts from October 20, 2002 though January 12, 2003.


Tickets go on sale to the public beginning January 5, 2003 (Members can reserve their free tickets and purchase additional tickets beginning December 3, 2002). By phone, call: (215) 235-SHOW (7469), Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (a nonrefundable service charge is added to all phone orders). Tickets can also be purchased anytime by visiting

General ticket prices are: adults ($20); ages 62+, students with I.D., and youths 13-18 ($17); children 5-12 ($10); children 4 and younger are admitted free (no strollers, please). A complimentary audio tour, for adults and for families with children, is included. The audio tour is funded in part by Aetna. A discounted weekday ticket price ($15) is offered for 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. times. For further information, call the ticket center at 215-235 SHOW (7469).

Advance purchase is strongly recommended. Payment may be made using cash, Mastercard, Visa, or American Express. Tickets are not refundable or exchangeable and discount programs are not applicable to special exhibitions. There is a nonrefundable service charge of $3 per ticket for tickets purchased by telephone and the Internet.


Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Wednesday and Friday
10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

The exhibition is open 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on the following Mondays only:

Monday, February 17 (President’s Day)
Monday, April 21 (Easter Monday)
Monday May 5 (Final Monday of exhibition)

Last tickets issued 90 minutes prior to closing

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will offer a wide range of related events, from concerts and lectures, to education courses and a day long seminar bringing some of the worlds’ leading art and dance scholars to Philadelphia. In addition, the Museum is collaborating some 25 dances schools and dance companies to highlight the city of Philadelphia as a center for dance and to celebrate the theme of the exhibition, Degas and the Dance. Among the highlights is Le Travail, a Degas-inspired world premiere from Matthew Neenan at Pennsylvania Ballet (February 14-22, 2003).

A fully illustrated catalogue published by the American Federation of Arts and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., accompanies the exhibition. Degas and the Dance features a comprehensive text by Richard Kendall and Jill DeVonyar on Degas' relationship with dance and the dance world, and the historical circumstances of the ballet in mid-to late 19th-century Paris. (304 pages; approximately 190 colorplates and 125 blackand- white illustrations; 9 1/2 x 11 inches; hardcover $49.95; paperback $35.00) Degas and the Dance: The Painter and the Petits Rats—Practicing Their Art, written by children’s book author Susan Goldman Rubin and published by Harry N. Abrams in association with the AFA and the School of American Ballet, tells the story of the artist’s attraction to dance and study of the dance world. (32 pages; 30 full color illustrations; 9 x 12 inches; hardcover $17.95)

Founded by an act of Congress in 1909, the American Federation of Arts (AFA) initiates and organizes art exhibitions that travel internationally and develops educational programs in collaboration with the museum community. Through these programs, the AFA seeks to strengthen the ability of museums to enrich the public’s experience and understanding of art. Please visit our website at

Located in the heart of Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is recognized as one of the country’s premier art museums. From the first van Gogh to enter a public collection in the United States (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals, the DIA's collection reveals the scope and depth of human experience, imagination, and emotion. Visit online at

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States, showcasing more than 2,000 years of exceptional human creativity in over 200 galleries installed with masterpieces of painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts, and architectural settings from Europe, Asia and the Americas. The striking neoclassical building stands on a nine-acre site above the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the city of Philadelphia and offers many enriching activities—including programs for children and families, lectures, concerts, and films. Please visit the Museum’s website at

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For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.