Degas at the Opera

Henri Loyrette

A lavish new investigation into the Paris Opera’s influence on Edgar Degas's painting.

From his debut in the 1860s up to his final works after 1900, the Paris Opera formed a focal point of Edgar Degas's paintings. He explored the theater's various spaces—auditorium and stage, private boxes, foyers, and dance studios—and painted those who frequented them: dancers, singers, orchestral musicians, audience members, and subscribers watching from the wings. This theater presented a microcosm of infinite possibilities, allowing him to experiment with multiple points of view, contrasting lighting, motion, and the precision of movement.

This catalog, created in concert with an exhibition at the Muse´e d'Orsay in Paris, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, considers the Paris Opera’s influence on Degas as a whole, examining not only his passionate relationship with the house and his musical tastes, but also the infinite resources of the opera's marvelous toolbox. Filled with striking reproductions of Degas’s work and including insightful essays by leading curators and scholars, Degas at the Opera offers admission into the world of Degas and the Paris Opera of the nineteenth century.


This 220-page feast contains 300 color images revealing the various on- and off-stage aspects of the Paris Opéra through Degas’ artwork.

— Artists Magazine

A backstage tour of the artist's favorite haunt… Degas at the Opéra conveys the essentials of what made Degas renowned as a ‘painter of dancers.’ For readers who want to go deeper, essays by curators and scholars round out the picture of Degas and his passion.

— The Christian Science Monitor


Henri Loyrette


Henri Loyrette is the former director of the Louvre Museum and former curator and director of the Museée d’Orsay.