Metro Weekly

Gallery: Degas at the Opéra

A special exhibition at the National Gallery of Art of Degas' best-known works

edgar degas, opera, art, gallery

Edgar Degas: Dancer with a bouquet curtseying on Stage, 1878 — Copyright RMN; Grand Palais / photo: Hervé Lewandowski / Art Resource, NY

Approximately 100 of Edgar Degas’s best-known and beloved works are on display in a special exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, which, last week, became the first major cultural institution in Washington to reopen since March.

The reopening is still limited, with access only to select galleries on the ground floor of the West Building — and only to those who obtain free timed passes, released every Monday at 10 a.m. for the following week. (Passes are not required to explore the museum’s Sculpture Garden.)

The passes, most of which get snatched up within hours of release, limit the flow and number of visitors, allowing ample social distancing space to take in displays of Impressionist still-life paintings, modern sculpture, decorative arts, American furniture, plus the temporary exhibition True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780-1870.

The true star attraction is a different temporary show, Degas at the Opéra, touted as the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s fascination with opera (rather than the far more common love of ballet).

Organized in partnership with Paris’s Musées d’Orsay, the exhibit features many renowned works, ranging from paintings to pastels, prints to sculpture, all associated with the Paris Opéra and presented to commemorate the 350th anniversary of its founding.

On display through Oct. 12. Outer Tier of the Ground Floor Galleries in the West Building, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. Call or visit

Edgar Degas: The Orchestra of the Opéra, 1870, oil on canvas — Copyright RMN-Grand Palais / photo: Hervé Lewandowski / Art Resource, NY

Edgar Degas: Dancers at the Old Opera House, c. 1877 — National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection

Edgar Degas: Ludovic Halévy Encounters Madame Cardinal in the Wings, c. 1876–1877 —
Collection André Bromberg

Edgar Degas: The Curtain, c. 1880 — National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Edgar Degas: The Dance Lesson, c. 1879 — National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Edgar Degas: Mademoiselle Malot, c. 1877 — National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection, 1963.10.18

Shelf Wood

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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