French Pastels at the MFA

I grew up dancing, and danced almost continuously from the ages of 3 to 18.

Dancers in the Rehearsal Room, Degas, 1900-1905.

At the studio where I studied, reproductions of some of Degas' famous works dotted the walls — inspiring me to be like the ballerinas in the prints.

And it's no surprise I associate Degas with ballet, I think most people do, but for me its never been Degas 'the artist at the museum' — its Degas the painter whose figures watched as I learned how to embody a dancer's grace and poise over the years.

Dancers in Rose, Degas, 1905.

So, I was incredibly happy to have the chance to peak into the "French Pastels" exhibit at the MFA before it closed this past weekend!

These treasures weren't just Degas' dancers, but a lovely collection of French impressionists including Millet, Pissarro, and Monet.

I had seen a few of the works when I went to the MFA Late Nite earlier this fall, but wanted to give one of my favorite styles the attention it deserved.

The museum curators placed a display case with Mary Cassatt's set of pastels in the middle of gallery, offering visitors a more tactile understanding of how these artworks came to be.

Have you worked with pastels?

There's something about the softness of the material that makes you certain you can evoke what these artists were able to create in their scenes.

Here are a few of my favorites from the gallery — Millet's farmyard scenes were ones that really caught my eye!

Farmyard by moonlight, Jean-Francois Millet, 1868.

Watering Horses, Sunset, Jean-Francois Millet, 1866.

Training Grape Vines, Jean-Francois Millet, 1860-64.

Little Goose Girl, Jean-Francois Millet, 1868.

Poultry Market at Gisors, Camille Pissarro, 1885.

As I've said before, there's something to the impressionists that is enchanting — the blending of fingerprints, everyday scenes, and the soft colors creates a romantic balance that instantly pleases the eye.

Farmyard in Winter, Jean-Francois Millet, 1868.

I'd quite like to step inside one of these scenes, wouldn't you?

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