Degas: Painter of Ballerinas (Children's Book)

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Degas: Painter of Ballerinas (Children's Book)

Through Edgar Degas’s beloved paintings, drawings, and sculptures, Susan Goldman Rubin conveys the wonder and excitement of the ballet world. Degas is one of the most celebrated painters of the impressionist movement, and his ballerina paintings are among the most favorite of his fans. In his artwork, Degas captures every moment, from the relentless hours of practice to the glamour of appearing on stage, revealing a dancer’s journey from novice to prima ballerina. Observing young students, Degas drew their poses again and again, determined to achieve perfection. The book includes a brief biography of his entire life, endnotes, bibliography, where to see his paintings, and an index.

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (April 16, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches

Editorial Reviews
From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Edgar Degas (1834-1917), a towering figure of French Impressionism, is best known for his closely observed, behind-the-scenes paintings, drawings, and sculptures of Paris Opera ballerinas in classes, rehearsals, and performances. In this handsomely designed book, prepared in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which holds all but two of the volume's marvelously reproduced artworks), Rubin uses clear, economical, graceful prose to describe the perfectionist master's life and career, artistic techniques and media, and painstaking approach to craft. Through narrative and art, readers meet some of his models and sympathize with aspiring young dancers coping with exhausting daily practice. Students also learn that Degas struggled for years with failing eyesight, which was the eventual impetus for his venturing into sculpture. Numerous quotes by and about Degas, and informative captions further enhance this title's portrait of both the artist and his prolific output. Ballet students and non-dancers alike will appreciate the liberal use (and definitions, via text, art, and glossary) of terminology. Elegant design flourishes include a pink-ribbon-like covering of the book's spine and illustrations throughout of toe shoe-like laces in many of the pages' margins. The excellent back matter includes notes, glossary, ballet terms, a list of where to view Degas artworks, and bibliography. VERDICT This title is highly recommended for public and school libraries. Useful for report writers, in art history units, and as supplementary fare for dance students and those preparing to attend a ballet recital and/or a Degas museum exhibit.-Carol Goldman, formerly at Queens Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"A handsome exploration of an artist's love affair with ballet . . . While ballet lovers will enjoy this glimpse into a 19th-century world (one painting includes Jules Perrot, a noted choreographer), art students will learn much from the exploration of techniques that Degas employed."
(Kirkus Reviews)

"In this handsomely designed book, prepared in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art . . . Rubin uses clear, economical, graceful prose to describe the perfectionist master’s life and career, artistic techniques and media, and painstaking approach to craft."
(School Library Journal)

"A beautiful, engaging, and informative book . . . it's hard to find fault with this enchanting book. It's the perfect gift for aspiring artists and dancers."
(New York Journal of Books)

"Plainspoken text (“He portrayed their gestures: leaning against a bench, stretching, rubbing their aching necks”) describes the artist’s working process, observations of the dancers, and his sympathy for their hard work."
(Publishers Weekly)





In classic or contemporary ballet, dancing may tell a story, express a mood, or simply reflect the music in movement. Ballet as part of staged performances originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and from there spread to France. The creation of classical ballet as we know it today occurred during the reign of the art-loving French king Louis XIV in the mid-17th century. During the Romantic era, ballet technique evolved to express new ideas, most notably with women dancing en point, or on their toes, allowing them to appear weightless and otherworldly.
Among the choreographers who helped bring ballet into the modern age by exploring new visual and dramatic styles are George Balanchine, Antony Tudor and—bridging the worlds of classical dance and Broadway—Agnes de Mille and Jerome Robbins.



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