Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Delightful Degas

Last Friday we went down to London to visit the Royal Academy of Arts and the Degas exhibition which is currently on.

My OH bought me membership to the Academy for Christmas last year, but sadly I have hardly used it and so we decided we needed to get in a few more visits before time's up.

Now don't get me wrong I am not a raving Degas fan, although I do admire his work.

The Dance Lesson c. 1879
(Pic courtesy Royal Academy)

The Rehearsal c. 1874
(Pic courtesy Royal Academy)

Neither am I an avid ballet fan, never been to the ballet, never had ballet classes, having boys, never taken children to ballet classes (sorry if that sounds sterotypical but that's just the way it is).

Two Dancers on the Stage c.1874
(Pic courtesy Royal Academy)

However what I am very interested in, is the human form, it's movement and early photography and this is what underpins the whole exhibition. So, if like me, this intrigues you, I would urge you to go and see it. It's on until Sunday December 11th, 2011.

After thinking about last Fridays post, I was very taken with the preparatory drawings that Degas did for each of his paintings, sketching and studying  a subject from every angle.....

(Pic courtesy of kappleto.blogspot.com)

The Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, preparatory sketches
(Pic courtesy http://drawingatduke.blogspot.com/)

........and detail

Detail sketches of dancers feet
(Pic courtesy W.M. Brady & Co., Inc)

......... in order to create his beautiful masterpieces.

The Red Ballet Skirts c.1895-1900

Three Dancers, (Blue Skirts, Red Bodices)  c.1903

The Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen 1880-1, cast c. 1922
(Pic courtesy Royal Academy)

..... and how he used early photography techniques to help him gain a better understanding of the human form

Woman dancing (Fancy) - Edweard Muybridge c. 1884- 86
(Pic courtesy Royal Academy)

....... and so influence his work.

Dancer (Prepartion en dedans) c. 1880 - 85

They have the most amazing film footage at the end of the exhibition of Degas simply walking down a crowded street in the early 1900's, just to see the road traffic, the people and the clothes was wonderful.

The boys did extremely well, they were up for a visit to an art gallery but maybe pictures of ballet dancers wasn't the best thing we could have taken them to.   So after lunch in a wonderul little eatery just situated off Berkeley Square, where we partook in a little al fresco dining......

'Lovis family park bench'

......we went on to discover Ripleys, an amazing emporium packed full of curiosities and facts, which we've been meaning to visit for a while but never got around to.Then the inevitable trip to Covent Garden and a meal in a Japanese restaurant to round off the day.

In fact the only disappointment I had all day was when my camera decided to give up on me. I found out it was the lens rather than the camera (after a bit of fiddling when I got home), which made things a little less disappointing (and expensive!)

Thank you for all of the lovely comments you left last week, it was lovely coming home to them and being able to read them all at once with a well earned cup of tea.


  1. Hello Caroline:
    Like you, the preparatory sketches which Degas made for some of his paintings possibly have more appeal, and interest, than the final work. But perhaps the same might be said of many artists. Whatever, we should have much enjoyed the exhibition and very clearly you had a really good day out, notwithstanding minor glitches with your camera.

  2. Wow you took your boys round? I am hoping to send my boy for ballet classes before he notices, unfortunately I think it will be everyone else that points out to him that he is the only boy! (He loves music, and he loves doing the same as his sister).

  3. What a lovely day, I feel very envious so many lovely things in one day!
    Jo x

  4. Ooh I love a day trip to London. I love Degas work especially as I used to dance myself, wish I could make it to the exhibition but not really going to happen at the moment.

  5. Now that sounds like a great day out! Your sons must love you very much! Vx

  6. A lovely post. I love the ballet, especially the costume ones and I love certain kinds of art/paintings so you have whet my appitite once more. It sounds like you had a great day all told. Whether the boys liked the ballet or not they will have gained a little more experience of other lives won't they so nothing lost. Thankyou for the read.