The acquisition of the first Degas print to enter the collection was generously funded by the Lathrop Fellows. Degas's On Stage III was one of only four prints published during the artist's lifetime. It was created for an exhibition sponsored by Les Amis des Arts de Pau, a town in southern France, where he had several friends. The etching reveals Degas's exploration of a favorite early vantage point at the Opéra, the center seats behind the orchestra pit, and his perceptions of the richly layered scene of musicians, dancers, and stage.
The present impression of the fifth state of On Stage III was printed outside the edition published for the Pau exhibition catalogue. Although this is not one of the rarest prints made by the artist, the present impression was selected for the exhibition and illustrated in the accompanying, landmark catalogue of 1984, described as one of seven "representative examples of this state" in the world.