Edgar Degas's Studies of Circus Performer, Miss Lala

July 24, 2019 posted by

in January 1879 the artist Edgard Agha went to a performance at the Fernando circus in the momart district of Paris and saw one of the most famous acrobats of his time a woman who was renowned for her feats of strength she called herself Miss Lala she was one of the star acrobats of the age her two main stunts were to be shot out of a cannon or to be hoisted to the ceiling of the circus big top holding herself aloft by her teeth the Gettys drawing is one of a group of her parrot ori studies for a painting of Miss Lala which is now in the National Gallery in London de God went to the circus on successive nights to watch her and dated each of the drawings starting January 19 he established the main lines of the pose in the January 19th drawing but in this one the January 21st drawing he's still struggling with aspects of the pose such as the hand reaching up at the right corner of the pastel trying to get this wonderful diagonal sweep of her arms this is a modern subject not only in the fantastic personality of Miss la la' herself as a circus performer but also in the radical angle from which he draws her it is a breakthrough in the circus imagery that would become so famous with later artists such as Toulouse Lautrec and sera and it is really the beginning of this fascination with circus imagery both the flashiness and kind of vertiginous spatial angles that circus performers cause you to see in the context of the big top

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