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Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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The Cirque Fernando was built in 1875 near the Place Pigalle in Paris, close to where Degas lived. He saw Miss La La perform there several times. Originally named Olga, she was a mixed-race circus performer famous for her feats of strength. Here, she is suspended by her teeth as she is hoisted up to the roof of the circus by a rope on a pulley. Her other acts included hanging upside down from a trapeze while clenching a chain, which supported a firing cannon, between her teeth. Degas places us among the audience, looking up at the spectacle above. Painting an acrobat allowed Degas to combine his interest in modern life with his fascination with complicated poses. He made a number of preparatory studies in various media, paying particular attention to the complex construction of the roof, which fills the painting.

The National Gallery, London



Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando




oil on canvas


H 117.2 x W 77.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1925

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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