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Portrait of Mlle Fiocre in the Ballet "La Source" (Portrait de Mlle...E[ugénie] F[iocre]: à propos du ballet "La Source")

Edgar Degas

European Art

The first of Edgar Degas’s many works to focus on the ballet, this painting depicts Eugénie Fiocre, a celebrated ballerina, in her role as princess Nourreda in the ballet La Source. The production presented a fantasy of an exotic “Orient,” featuring Mlle Fiocre as (in the words of one writer) “the prettiest blonde houri who ever wore the bonnet and the corset of pearls in the paradise of Muhammad.” The 1866 production at the Paris Opéra—with its elaborate costumes and sets, including the hydraulic-powered running stream and live horse seen in Degas’s painting—astonished audiences and provided fodder for caricaturists, who compared the women at the water’s edge to laundresses.

Degas portrays Mlle Fiocre resting during a pause in rehearsal. There is nothing in the painting to indicate that this is a theater set rather than an imagined historical or literary scene except for the dancer’s pink ballet slippers, visible between the horse’s front legs. Mixing stage artifice and psychological realism, Degas captures a complex moment when time, place, self, and performance intersect.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1867–1868
    DIMENSIONS 51 1/2 x 57 1/8 in., 166 lb. (130.8 x 145.1 cm, 75.3kg) frame: 63 x 69 x 6 1/4 in. (160 x 175.3 x 15.9 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of James H. Post, A. Augustus Healy, and John T. Underwood
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Edgar Degas (Paris, France, 1834–1917, Paris, France). Portrait of Mlle Fiocre in the Ballet "La Source" (Portrait de Mlle...E[ugénie] F[iocre]: à propos du ballet "La Source"), ca. 1867–1868. Oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 57 1/8 in., 166 lb. (130.8 x 145.1 cm, 75.3kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of James H. Post, A. Augustus Healy, and John T. Underwood, 21.111 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 21.111_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 21.111_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2022
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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