Stamp Day – The Star – Edgar Degas


France – Edgar Degas, from the upper bourgeoisie, obtained his baccalauréat at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. After a short visit to the Faculty of Law, he opted for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before spending three years in Italy from 1856 to 1859. He met Gustave Moreau who contributed greatly to enrich his training and broaden his artistic knowledge.

At the beginning of his career, Degas tried out all genres: academies, portraits, historical painting, landscapes, scenes of contemporary life. It is these last subjects: scenes of cafes, ironers, modistes, horse races, dancers of the Opera, that would have his predilection while he exposed with the group of the Impressionists from 1874.

A frequent spectator of the Opera in the rue Le Peletier and then in the Palais Garnier, the painter also frequented behind the scenes or the foyer of dance, multiplying the performances of dancers in rehearsal, at rest or knotting their slippers.

Degas was interested in the rendering of the snapshot and the enclosed spaces, which differentiates him from his Impressionist comrades such as Monet or Pissarro who focus more on landscape and light. It represents here a dancer alone in scene, seen in slight overhang. All dressed in white, the star with the very precise drawing twists on the floor. The colorful behind-the-scenes background is sketched out but other dancers are awaiting their turn, as well as the body, hidden head and hands in pockets, of a man in black, probably their protector.

Presented at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877, L’Étoile was acquired by the painter Gustave Caillebotte. Following the legacy of his collection to the French State in 1894, this pastel is one of the first works of Degas entered the Luxembourg Museum, ancestor of the Musée d’Orsay.

Technical Details

Issue Date: 16.03.2017
Designer: Marion Favreau
Process: Héliogravure
Size: 105 x 71.5 mm
Values: 1.46€