The Rehearsal on Stage
Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Horace Havemeyer, 1929 (29.160.26). In the right background of Degass picture sit two well-dressed, middle-aged men, who enjoy their intimacy with the dancers at informal rehearsal. Because ballerinas generally came from lower- class families and exhibited their scantily clad bodies in publicsomething prohibited for respectable bourgeois womenthey were widely assumed to be sexually available, and they often attracted the attentions of wealthy men willing to support them in exchange for sexual favors. Thus several of Degass ballet pictures also include one or more of the dancers mothers, who would accompany their daughters to rehearsals and performances in order to safeguard their virtue.
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Degas, Edgar, “The Rehearsal on Stage,” Digital Collections - University at Buffalo Libraries, accessed December 1, 2021, https://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/items/show/35191.