Nat’l Gallery renames Degas painting “Russian Dancers” to “Ukrainian Dancers”

The National Gallery in London retitled the 1890s painting by Edgar Degas after calls on social media.

Degas painting Russian dancers now Ukrainian dancers

Since last week, the pastel and charcoal image on paper frocm circa 1899 has been officially referred to by the gallery as ‘Ukrainian Dancers’ rather than ‘Russian Dancers.’

The picture in question is part of a series and was produced during visits by dance troupes from the Russian Empire to Paris in the late 1890s. Such performances were a popular attraction, given the French interest in Eastern European traditions after the establishment of the Dual Alliance between France and the Russian empire in 1894.

The dancers “are almost certainly Ukrainian rather than Russian,” its description on the National Gallery’s website says, without further elaboration.


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The campaign to “Ukrainize” Degas’ drawings was spearheaded by Ukrainian artist and activist Mariam Naiem, who claimed the move by the National Gallery as her “micro victory”. She said she wrote to several Western art museums displaying works from the series, petitioning for the change, and that the British one was the first to comply.

Degas painting Russian Dancers in original color
“Russian Dancers” in original color
The Russian Dancer painting by Edgar Degas
The Russian Dancer by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917) was a French Impressionist artist famous for his pastel drawings and oil paintings.