Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Degas Dancers at the Royal Academy

Posted in Ballet, Degas by sheelanagigcomedienne on November 14, 2011

I went to the Degas at the Royal Academy. I found it strange that he only painted dancers in costume -strangely only one type of ballet dress- making it diffucult to discern what ballet they might have been rehearsing. Dancers wouldn’t normally wear costumes every day at class. They would have had leg warmers otherwise thier legs could get cold and they would put on flesh to compensate. Where were the male dancers? I know that he was interested in movement but it left me a little suspicious.

I went to ballet classes well into my teens and was reminded of all those ballet terms and positions.

Arabesque, Attitude,   Battement frappé,     Cabriole,      Chassé,   Demi-plié,   Échappé,   Entrechat,  Fouetté,           Jeté, Pas de quatre,                Pirouette,                  Plié,                     Relevé

Ballerinas en pointe            is an example of foot fetish along with chinese foot binding and stilettos.

I checked out Degas and discovered he was very anti-semitic, partly it was claimed as he craved respectability and acceptance within the upper echelons of French society.

He was characterized as an “old curmudgeon” by the novelist George Moore, and he deliberately cultivated his reputation as a misanthropic bachelor. Profoundly conservative in his political opinions, he opposed all social reforms and found little to admire in such technological advances as the telephone. He fired a model upon learning she was Protestant. Although Degas painted a number of Jewish subjects from 1865 to 1870, his anti-Semitism became apparent by the mid 1870s. His 1879 painting At The Bourse is widely regarded as strongly anti-Semitic, with the facial features of the banker taken directly from the anti-Semitic cartoons rampant in Paris at the time.

The Dreyfus Affair, which divided Paris from the 1890s to the early 1900s, further intensified his anti-Semitism. By the mid 1890s, he had broken off relations with all of his Jewish friends, publicly disavowed his previous friendships with Jewish artists, and refused to use models who he believed might be Jewish. He remained an outspoken anti-Semite and member of the anti-Semitic “Anti-Dreyfusards” until his death.

He did paint other subjects horse racing, absinthe drinkers women undressing etc.


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