A Dubious Degas? – Danseuse Bleue et Contrebasses

Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould holding the painting, Danseuse Bleue et Contrebasses (Image courtesy of BBC)

Today’s BBC news features the wonderful painting Danseuse Bleue et Contrebasses, which was once considered to be one of the greatest works painted by Edgar Degas. The small oil painting depicting a ballet dancer on stage, was bought as a Degas from a reputable London dealer in 1945, but failed to make the official record of the catalogue raisonne. The painting was declared a fake by a leading Degas expert in the 1950s, after it was deemed that the dancer’s features and composition, was atypical of Degas’ unique painting style.

According to reports on BBC news, cutting edge forensic techniques have now made it possible to establish the authenticity of the work, in a way that was never possible before. As a result, paintings by some of the greatest artists that were either unknown, or considered fakes, are now being re-evaluated.

The once ‘dubious Degas’, Danseuse Bleue et Contrebasses, has since been declared authentic after tests found the paint contained lead (consistant with paint used during Degas’ day), and did not contain titanium white – a constituent of paint used after Degas’ time. Modern photographs were also taken of dancers at the Paris Opera, to evaluate the body composition and the reality of the dancer’s position.

The fascinating investigation of the painting’s authenticity will feature in the second series of BBC One’s ‘Fake Or Fortune?’ which begins tomorrow on Sunday 16 September.

I will be looking forward to watching the programme on iPlayer.

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