Dancers at the Barre exemplifies Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s ability, late in his career, to allow the expressive application of medium and color to overtake the rationality of subject and composition. The motif of a dancer with her leg propped up on a practice bar appears as early as the mid-1870’s and continues to around 1900. This work is one of the latest representations.
Phillips called the painting a “masterpiece (which) in its monumentality… is unique among all (Degas’s) decorations celebrating… dancers. (In its) daring record of instantaneous change at a split second of observation (he) miraculously… transformed the incident of swiftly seen shapes in time into a thrilling vision of dynamic forms in space.”