Musée d'Orsay: Degas at the Opera

Degas at the Opera

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
 L'orchestre de l'Opéra [The Orchestra at the Opera]
 Circa 1870
 Oil on canvas
 H. 56.5; W. 45 cm
 Paris, Musée d'Orsay
Edgar DegasThe Orchestra at the Opera© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Throughout his entire career, from his debut in the 1860s up to his final works after 1900, the Opera formed the focal point of Degas’ output. It was his “own room”. He explored the theatre’s various spaces - auditorium and stage, boxes, foyers, and dance studios - and followed those who frequented them: dancers, singers, orchestral musicians, audience members, and black-attired subscribers lurking in the wings. This closed world presented a microcosm of infinite possibilities allowing all manner of experimentations: multiple points of view, contrasts of lighting, the study of motion and the precision of movement.

This is the first exhibition to consider the Opera as a whole, examining not only Degas’ passionate relationship with the House and his musical tastes, but also the infinite resources of this marvellous ‘toolbox’. The work of a truly great artist offers us the portrait of the Paris Opera in the 19th century.

General curator

Henri Loyrette


Leila Jarbouai, graphic arts curator at the Musée d'Orsay, Marine Kisiel, curator at the Musée d'Orsay and Kimberly Jones, curator of 19th century French paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington

Exhibition organized by the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, where it will be presented from 1 March to 5 July 2020 on the occasion of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Paris Opera.

Exhibition organized with the exceptional contribution of the Bibliothèque nationale de France

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