Edgar Degas, Ballet Rehearsal, 1875
Another spooky Degas painting, this work traps its subjects in a murky green abyss, using bright lighting to illuminate only the sides of their faces and bodies. The young ballerina in the center appears quite fragile—as if she could easily lose her balance while on point, and fall over. Her fragility is accentuated by the fact that she is being observed by frightful figures on either side. In this painting, as in many of Degas’ works, the arts are portrayed as if they are a part of a dark and dangerous underworld filled with suffering, rather than sources of beauty and entertainment.
Edgar Degas - Dancer Taking a Bow (1877)
I can’t help but think of Black Swan when viewing this painting, or at least wonder which ballet is being performed here. The dancer’s face is ghostly pale and does not look healthy, though she manages to forge a smile. The set designs in the background appear to be a monstrous world that is slowly engulfing her as she finishes her performance.