About this artwork

This sketchy painting of a girl’s head is believed to show a young ballet-dancer. She is positioned next to a source of strong light, possibly a window, which makes her profile resemble a silhouette. Determining the date of this picture has proved problematic, with suggestions ranging from the late 1870s to the 1890s. It is possible that Degas worked on this painting for a time and then abandoned it, only to return to it after a lapse of some years. The painting shows Degas making bold experiments with colour. He has examined the different colours that the light and shade have created in the girl’s skin tone, and has included a number of yellow, pink and green tints.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
    Edgar DegasFrench (1834 - 1917)
  • title:
    A Study of a Girl's Head
  • date created:
    Late 1870s
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    57.10 x 45.00 cm; Framed: 75.90 x 63.90 x 6.50 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Presented by Sir Alexander Maitland in memory of his wife Rosalind, 1960
  • accession number:
    NG 2227
  • gallery:
  • subject:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas