A handsome exploration of an artist’s love affair with ballet.
Rubin returns to a much-loved topic almost two decades after her earlier Degas and the Dance (2002). She describes the artist’s preference for painting in a studio as opposed to his fellow impressionists, who loved the outdoor light. How he observed the ballerinas of the Paris Opera Ballet and how he posed them are carefully explained. Rubin also pays particular attention to the various media that Degas employed, from oils to pastels to chalk. She includes information about his failing eyesight and the sculptures he created late in life. A profusion of reproductions, many full-page and all full-color (except when the originals are not), showcases the beautiful attention to detail that Degas cared about so deeply. His dancers are caught in the moment as they adjust their costumes, rehearse, or execute a step, and thoughtful captioning provides helpful interpretation. While ballet lovers will enjoy this glimpse into a 19th-century world (one painting includes Jules Perrot, a noted choreographer), art students will learn much from the exploration of techniques that Degas employed. The inclusion of two glossaries, of art terms and of ballet terms, highlights the book’s balance.
Not a complete biography of a painter but a noteworthy study of his most famous genre. (author’s note, notes, where to see artworks by Degas, bibliography) (Biography. 9-12)