This piece was done in the "essence" technique, which, I
just recently learned, Degas invented to be able to work in
a medium that looked like pastel which he would not have
to frame. -- Although Degas is thought of as being wealthy,
and was, in fact related to Italian nobility, his brother's
erstwhile, failed cotton business in New Orleans placed a
great deal of financial pressure on him during many years
of his life, so I guess he was looking, like most of us do, for
ways to economize. -- In this technique, the oil is soaked out
of the paint overnight on blotters, paper towels - Degas
apparently used cardboard - then scraped onto the palette
the next day.
Then, the paint is diluted with solvent (essence in French)
and can be painted on any unprepared paper surface.