Edgar Degas - The Dance Lesson, 1879. Oil on canvas
Degas was interested in the natural cycles of activity and rest that he observed behind the scenes at the Opera House. In The Dance Lesson, he focused on these in-between times when the dancers, released briefly from their strenuous practice regimen, could relax. In Before the Ballet, he depicted the entire cycle of activity and rest in one painting. Degas greatly admired the young dancers’ athleticism and controlled energy; he tried to capture the tension inherent in the life of a working ballerina in his painting.