Talking Points: Charcoal Drawings by Degas

A collection of imagery to explore work in charcoal by Edgar Degas.

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Charcoal Drawings by Edgar Degas

Seated Dancer 1873–74 Edgar Degas

Seated Dancer, 1873–74
Edgar Degas. Charcoal, Graphite and Chalk on Pink Paper

Violinist, Study for "The Dance Lesson" ca. 1878–79 Edgar Degas

Violinist, Study for “The Dance Lesson” ca. 1878–79
Edgar Degas. Charcoal and  Graphite on Green Paper

Two Dancers ca. 1879 Edgar Degas

Two Dancers ca. 1879 Edgar Degas. Charcoal and Chalk on Green Paper

Questions to Ask Children

Can you describe one of the artworks above? What kinds of words would you use to describe the drawing to a person who couldn’t see it?

Degas often used coloured paper for his drawings. Why do you think he did this? What does it add to the drawings?

Degas often used two materials such as charcoal and chalk, or charcoal and graphite. Why do you think he did this? What does adding two or more drawing materials add to the drawing?

In some of Degas’ drawings you can see a faint grid. Why do you think Degas used a grid?

Look at “Two Dancers” and this time look at the areas of the page where there is “no” drawing. How are these areas of the drawing as important as the areas with marks on? 

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