Dancers Practicing at the Barre (1877) by Edgar Degas

The watering can, visible at left, was a standard fixture in ballet rehearsal rooms; water was sprinkled on the floor to keep dust from rising when ballerinas danced. Degas also used the watering can as a visual pun: its shape is mimicked by that of the dancer at right. Shown at the 1877 Impressionist exhibition, the painting was given by Degas to the collector Henri Rouart as a replacement for an earlier work (now lost), which the artist altered and accidentally destroyed. Louisine Havemeyer purchased it from Rouart's estate sale in 1912, for $95,700, a record price for a work by a living artist. (The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 815)

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