2a. Image-Based Essay #1—Degas (25% of Class Grade)

–Paper must be 3-4 pages in length (double-spaced)

–Paper must have a title (a good title will reflect your thesis)

–Paper must be in Times New Roman 12 point font

–Paper margins must be 1″ on left and right; top margin must be 1″ and bottom margin 1″

–Put titles of works of art in italics

**IMPORTANT** If you borrow someone else’s idea, you must footnote it.  

If you borrow it directly, you must put their words in quotation (” “) marks. 

(This applies to all information taken from lecture, books, wall plaques, etc.)


1. Watch the Videos on Impressionism and Degas. Do some other research if you like to try to get an understanding of this image. 

1a. Look at how the space doesn’t seem mathematical or precise, that it is not like a stage, that there is no focus, that it is modern feeling in this way. The Impressionists, like Degas, painted as they saw and that is important and unlike how people did before. Compare, for example to David’s Oath of Horataii (1784) (Google it)—do you see how stiff and posed and staged that painting is, whereas Degas’ is as if you just walked into a room with everyone doing “their thing”? Now you have to put those observations into an essay. What about the mirror in the left background of painting reflecting the industrial city? It shows it is modern and technological. The same for the advertisement next to it. These are some things to think about.

2. Think about what the word “modern” means (You can look up “modern” in Wikipedia for ideas, but I want you to generate your own explanation of the term, not copy one from the Internet). What makes Degas’ The Dance Classmodern? Think about the following aspects of the painting: How does it depict the interior of the dance studio? What (if anything) is the focus or central figure in the painting? Does the view seem formal or casual? 

You may borrow ideas other sources, but tell me you are doing so by using quotation marks and telling me where from.

2a. I want you to interpret this painting with a strong opinion—i.e. thesis, supported with observations you make in the painting. This assignment is not about defining the word modern, but about how you interpret Degas painting as modern. It really is a modern way of seeing.

Thesis example—feel free to use:

Edgar Degas’s The Dance Class is considered to be a modern painting. In it he shows a glimpse of modern life through including non-traditional perspective as well as a snapshot feeling of all the people doing different things to show his time as a modern urban environment—just like today. He also includes things like a mirror and advertisement to reflect a modern environment. This is also why there is really no central figure and the eye moves throughout the painting. It is like passing people on the subway—he is giving us a glimpse, not a staged performance.

-Paper should conform to Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) standard.

See painting below:

Edgar Degas, The Dance Class, 1874

The Dance Class, 1874 - Edgar Degas - WikiArt.org


A Beginner’s Guide to Impressionism



“Impressionism: Art and Modernity” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History


Watch: (5:08)

Degas, The Dance Class (1874)

Watch: (5:36)

Monet, Gare, St. Lazare (1876)

Watch: (5:45)

Renoir, The Grand Boulevards (18)

Watch: (5:05)

Renoir, Moulin de la Galette (1876)

Watch: (3:10)

Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge

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