Sold with a photo-certificate from Caroline Durand-Ruel Godfroy dated le 10 mars 2000.
The present work is given the title 'Danseuse attachant sa sandale' in P. A. Lemoisne's catalogue raisonné, however, the dancer would appear to be flexing her right ankle, caught in a moment of preparation. Over many years and in many different media (see fig. 1 and 2), Degas explored the movements of dancers finding their positions both studied and accidental, a rich source of inspiration. As he wrote in 1886: 'It is necessary to do a subject ten times, a hundred times. Nothing in art must seem an accident'.
'He almost completely abandoned oil painting in the last years of his life turning more and more to pastel, a medium in which he could create elaborate, highly finished pictures as his eyesight dimmed. There are several reasons for this almost total switch to pastel after 1895. First, the pastel crayon is more easily controlled than the paintbrush, because the pigment is integral with the tool itself and is held directly in the fingers, becoming almost an extension of the artist's hand. Second, if the layers of pigment are properly fixed between applications of the pastel strokes, the artist may work and rework the surface, building up complex layers of colour; thus, by working in pastel, rather than oil paint, Degas could satisfy his desire to create an elaborate picture surface built up of strokes of pure colour with less fear of completely covering, and thus obliterating, a prized effect of tint or texture' (G. Shackleford, exh. cat., Degas, The Dancers, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1984, pp. 116-118).