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A Study of a Girl's Head

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A Study of a Girl's Head Late 1870s

Not on display

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.

Glossary Open


Images showing an outline with no internal detail set against a contrasting background. It is specifically used for portraits of this type cut from paper.



  • Acc. No. NG 2227
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 57.10 x 45.00 cm
  • Credit Presented by Sir Alexander Maitland in memory of his wife Rosalind, 1960