Edgar DEGAS –master of frozen motion: crusty, eccentric, brilliant


Edgar DEGAS – master of frozen motion: crusty, eccentric, brilliant

(Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas) (1834-1917, 83)


 Diverse and prolific, a singular Modern great.

But an enigma then and more now.

Formally an Impressionist, but on his own terms, as a fellow rebel.

A complex, talented, contrary radical-conservative who embraced the modern, through his incongruous „social realism“.

An unlikely but fitting candidate for Baudelaire’s „painter of modern life“.

In his portraits and figurative genre scenes laud the composition, line and narrative, the snapshots of movement.

And the restless experiment in his later pastels, ironically including landcsapes.



  • The prolific, talented, but eccentric and complex Edgar Degas („de Gah“ not „day Gah“) is a rich and abundant lode for art historians and devotees.
  • Great art pays revisiting and whatever the ambivalence over Degas refractory disposition to life (and women), most of his art fits, especially the ambiguous narratives in his clever figurative portraits and genre snapshots and the innovative skilful execution.
  • But controversy over the cold, bigoted but brilliant painter and his art won‘t rest: the academically trained „radical conservative“, the cantankerous loner who uncharacetristically ditched traditionally favoured history painting to relish painting his own fast changing times, but then in his own peculiar way.
  • His prolific obsession of the life-long bachelor for painting (young female) ballet dancers and later naked ladies at their „toilette“, worries some today. Many of Degas‘ images of women are seen as demeaning or misogynistic.
  • Or they can stand as frankly realist, unrehearsed moments of motion an story unencumbered by comment or judgement, reflecting an „unstinting, even cruel naturalism” (Karen Rosenberg, NY Times, 20 Oct. 2011), by a restless imaginative artist skilled and keen at drawing.
  • Thus Degas, when asked about his preoccupation with ballet, replied it reminded him of „the complex movement of the Greeks”, alluding to his early enthusiastic appetite for Classicism, then at the feet of Ingre.
  • Most agree, then and now, Degas was socially cranky or discordant, but was also generous, helped his family (eg after his father died) and helped other artists and friends, eg Mary Cassatt (below), Gauguin (bought paintings), and Edmond Duranty’s widow.
  • Formally Degas was an Impressionist and a leading figure within the now famous rebellious movement (he showed at 6 of the 7 group exhibitions, from 1874 to 1886), but on his terms. He was an outsider in a group of artists loosely united mostly by a common disdain for the art establishment, and its regimented narrow-minded Paris Salon process.
  • Compared to his Impressionist colleagues his painting style remained restrained and conservative, not following the bolder colour and coarse freer brush textures of Monet, Pissarro et al, though later it did shift radically.
  • But his subject mix was quite different. After starting with history painting, he switched to become a committed and incongruous „social realist“, more like Edouard Manet (1832-83), engaging with modern urban life, the Paris around him, high and low, painting people and life relentlessly.
  • Also most of his art includes figures moving (dancers, bathers and horses!), to which he applied his exceptional technical draughtsman skills.
  • So he frowned at the dreamy colorful atmospheric landscapes of his eponymous colleagues. He said of Monet: „I am off, all these reflets d’eaux are making my eyes hurt’. And: “Boredom soon overcomes me when I am contemplating nature. “ Which is why Monet is popularly famous but Degas is not.
  • But within the span of „modern life“, his choice of subject matter was again his own, eccentrically narrow:
  • generally conventional portraits, genre scenes of race horses and racing, and cafes and theatre life;
  • less conventional images of „lower class“ working women like laundresses and milliners;
  • then, unconventionally, a vast output focussed on ballet dancers, and also considerable coverage of naked ladies about their baths, near all in pastels and more colorful.
  • A consistent theme through his images is the moment in time, the frozen movement of figures, stalling the transient, which also fitted his later keen interest in photography, using photographs like sketches in preparing for a painting..
  • Raised in a supportive affluent family he was distinctly conservative, with strong conventional academic training, hence spent much time at the Louvre. He keenly appreciated past art, but with a wide eye. Thus he greatly admired both Delacroix (1798-1863) and Ingres (1780-1867, whom Degas met in 1855), famous recent French artists but from different poles, Ingres the Neoclassicist and Delacroix the Romantic. Farther afield still he also greatly admired the industrious important French satirical illustrator Honore Daumier.
  • Perhaps because of his academic training his painting style stayed more conservative, traditional for most of his career, more line and contour, less innovative use of the bolder color and texture of Monet or Pissarro.
  • Yet Degas‘ art was far from conventional. He innovated in his striking unconventional figurative compositions:, distorted, unbalanced, cropped, which reflect Japonism, the then influence of recently available Japanese prints. And he innovated in the freer style in his later pastels, especially with his important extensive work with monotypes, experimenting with variations, oil or ink monotype prints overworked with pastels, including quasi-abstract c1890 landscapes like Le Cap Hornu, Green landscape, Russet landscape and Squall in the mountains, and, curiously, his earlier (1869) pastel, Marine, Soleil Couchant (sunset) which evokes Rothko.
  • Like a good Impressionist he also worked with light, but for him more the spectral, the ghostly nocturnal light of the theatre and cafe.
  • Degas‘s famous contemporary friend Renoir recognised the distinction of his later work, speaking to dealer Ambrose Vollard: „If Degas had died at fifty, he would have been remembered as an excellent painter, no more: it is after his fiftieth year that his work broadened out and he really becomes Degas.”
  • Suggestions Degas‘ failing eyesight may have contributed to his freer pastel style are debateable. Notwithstaning he did have a problem, one view is he used it as a front.
  • In shifting to looser „form and color“ he was ironically moving closer to the conventional Impressionist model.
  • His artistic nose roved. Beyond abundant drawing and painting he „modeled some of the most provocative sculptures in the history of modernist art, devoting a great deal of time, energy, and effort to his idiosyncratic waxes but never casting them and exhibiting only one in his lifetime.” (Karen Wilkins, The New Criterion, March 1994). His now famous radical dressed wax sculpture of The Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen (1881), shown at the 1881 Impressionist show, caused a furore: “the very type of horror and bestiality..”.
  • And he was well aware of photography, emerging in his lifetime as a dramatic new visual image technology, which he actively explored, especially later (1895-96), and which images influenced his moment-in-time compositions for dancers and women bathing. This was emphasized by London’s Royal Academy in their 2011 exhibition, “Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movemen” quoting Baudelaire in their catalogue: “Dance is poetry with arms and legs.
  • Looking at his work in the period from the late 1870s through early 1880s, say 1875-84, (ie Degas 41-50), and we have something of near everything:
    • his striking seaside Gauguin-like Peasant Girls Bathing in the Sea at Dusk (1875).
    • theatre singers (one of his first important pastels, 1875, Music Hall Singer (La Chanson du Chien));
    • café ladies (the sad poignant portrait of the stoned café lady (an actress) and man, 1876, L’Absinthe drinkers);
    • conservative formal portraits (but with telling compositions, c1876, Duchessa di Montejasi with Her Daughters, Elena and Camilla);
    • race horses (a signature asymmetrical composition of foreground cropped horses and carriaged spectators, within a landscape, receding to the races and a village on a hill ridge, 1876-87, The racecourse (Amateur jockeys close to a carriage);
    • an unusual coarser, colorful evening ball scene (1879, Dinner at the ball);
    • two relaxed but carefully composed portraits, two friends, both art critics, one in oils, one pastel and tempera (1879 Diego Martelli, and 1879, Edmond Duranty);
    • countless ballet dancers (bold momenntary, narratory compositions, and sympathetic drama like 1880-82, Waiting);
    • the famous sculpture (La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, in bronze and fabric, wax etc 1880-81, cast c1922);
    • millinery ladies (a sad face in 1882-1905, The Milliners);
    • one of his best bath ladies paintings, also showing another working lady! (1883, The cup of tea, breakfast after bathing);
    • laundresses (weary working ladies, 1884 -86 Two laundresses);
    • and a landscape (the simple, geometric 1884, Landscape on the Orne).
  • Degas appreciated his fellow modern artists, purchased works by Daumier, Manet, Pissarro, van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne, as well as older artists like Delacroix and Ingres.
  • He famously said of a work by Manet: I put it [a still life of a pear, by Manet] there [on the wall, next to Ingres’ Jupiter], for a pear like that would overthrow any god.”



Degas’ art… the singular Impressionist.

Formally an Impressionist…

Degas was a versatile artist, “famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings”, and prolific across a career of about 40 years.

He is labelled an Impressionist because he exhibited with the group. The Impressionists (Degas, with Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Cezanne, Cassat, and Morisot) were a diverse group who from late 1860s/early 1870s set aside some differences to unite in protest against the conservative French art establishment, and specifically their restrictive annual Paris Salon exhibition.

Interestingly Manet, despite his important and historic Modernist inclination, pointedly did not formally join the rebels, ie exhibit with them, though some of his paintings certainly fit the template, whereas Degas (only 2 years younger) did join despite being a bit older, generally more conservative and with a different painting approach to the others, in style and subject. And moreover he was then was one its prime movers.

He showed his work at all but one of the Impressionist exhibitions, including the last in 1886, and “single-handedly recruited more artists to exhibit at these shows than any other member”. He showed 10 works with the French Impressionists in their famous first show which opened 15 April 1874 (ie purposely before the Paris Salon) at a photographer’s premises at 35 Boulevard des Capucines (near l’Opera), 1874; then 24 works in 1876; 22 works to the 3rd in 1877; more in the 4th in 1879; 8 works at the 5th in 1880; works for the 6th in 1881, including the now famous then novel near life size wax sculpture of the dancer Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, which attracted strong critical opinions (“The little flower of the gutter”, said critic Jules Claretie); and 15 works at the 7th and last show in 1886, including larger pastels.

But yes like Manet he was different, in respect of his painting style and technique, and his subject matter. And he knew it, clashing with the others in the group. He “mocked” their predilection for landscapes, he “bitterly rejected” the name given by the critics to the group (“What a pity we allowed ourselves to be called Impressionists”), “preferring to be called a realist”. Or “Independent”. He disliked the controversy generated by the publicity, and later caused friction by insisting that some more traditional realist artists be included.

Apparently, aware of the import of his art, Degas would bicker to the end of his life as to whether he or Manet had first started painting scenes from modern life. But he joined the Impressionists, and Manet didn’t, and Manet’s early death in 1883 meant Degas, not him, became the intellectual leader of French art in the late 19th century. “ (J. Jones, 30 Oct.2004).


.. but a different painting style…

Perhaps influenced by his strong early academic training (including being impressed by Ingres, who he met 1855, “Draw lines young man.”, and Delacroix), his painting style remained generally more traditional or conservative, focussing more on line and contour. The other “Impressionists” by contrast were more innovative in their use of color (and bolder color), coarse brushstrokes, and bolder surface texture.

He said: I always urged my contemporaries to look for interest and inspiration to the development and study of drawing, but they would not listen. They thought the road to salvation lay by the way of colour.

Also Degas worked mainly from sketches or memory, painstakingly in a studio, and deliberately. He said to Georges Jeanniot (whose chateau he visited at Diénay in Burgundy, 1890): “It is very good to copy what one sees; it is much better to draw what you can’t see any more but in your memory.” So he avoided painting off the cuff and the en plein air favored by most other Impressionists. “I assure you, no art is less spontaneous than mine.”

And earlier, famously: Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.


However Degas was innovative and unconventional in his figure compositions, influenced in this – like many contemporaries – by Japanese prints, their flatness, discard of traditional perspective, and their bold compositions, often cropped and unbalanced.

But in this he may also have recalled work by the Mannerists of the mid 16th C, which he saw in Italy.

And his later failing eyesight may have impacted.

He was also innovative in working in different media, especially later, through working with pastels, and monotype prints then overworked by pastels.


… and subject matter….

In his subject matter Degas was much more a “social realist” than the other Impressionists, focussing on contemporary life, which meant close observation of life and people in his home city Paris. But his sample of “modern life” was heterodox.

He painted many portraits, usually oils, and probing, elusive, showing, “complexity… portrayal of human isolation”, reinforced by unbalanced compositions.

And he developed these into powerful figurative genre compositions, especially in The Orchestra of the Opera (1869), Édouard Manet and Mme. Manet (1869), Foyer de la Danse (1872), Musicians in the Orchestra (1872) and A Carriage at the Races (1873).

By contrast, however, over half his total oeuvre comprised ballet dance and dancers, the first painted in 1868. He used bold innovative compositions to paint narrative snapshot scenes of life, including teachers and audience.

He also executed many images of race horses, horse racing and spectators (in the country outside Paris so set in landscapes); cafes (more ladies) and theatres (singers and musicians); and “lower class” working women (more ladies), especially laundresses (first in 1869) and milliners (hat sellers), to the extent that one critic mused that hats were Degas’ lilies”.

Later, from about 1883 (49), as his eyesight was fading, he turned to many images in pastels of women at their “toilette” (more ladies), their bath, usually informal, awkward, unposed.

Thus unlike the other Impressionists, Degas keenly explored depicting the human figure. This stemmed from his strong early academic training and his great technical skill as a draughtsman may also have influenced this.

The theme connecting all these figures – dancers, race horses and jockeys, women shopping, and women bathing – is movement.

Finally there were two phases of landscapes, around 1870, then much later, around 1890, in oils and pastels, some with monotypes. Some of these works are intriguing and prescient.


Degas and women?

… reaction then…

The plethora of young (female) ballet dancers, and Degas’ later preoccupation with bath ladies attracted curiosity then from his peers and critics, eg the 1888 show of 9 pastel drawings organised by Theo van Gogh.

The 1888 show “woke up the Paris avant garde to how far Degas had moved from his celebrated images of horse races and singers and dancers.” Vincent Van Gogh discussed this frankly in correspondence with Emil Bernard: ”The very reason Degas’s painting is virile and impersonal is that … he observes human animals who are stronger than himself screwing and fucking away and he paints them so well for the very reason he isn’t all that keen on it himself.”!?


.. and now…

Curiosity for the prolific interest in women (especially the later bath images) and his “opaque sexualiy” (Marina Ferretti) persists.

Some brand him a self indulgent voyeuristic misogynist. It would be easy to see Degas as a misogynist, cold and voyeuristic, and there is truth in this. …. He said deliberately brutal things about women – “She made paintings as she would hats,” he commented grossly on Berthe Morisot.. “ (J. Jones, Guardian, 30 Oct.2004).

Another critic Peter Schjeldahl (New Yorker, Oct.2011) comes out swinging: “What did Edgar Degas want? “Degas and the Nude,” a wonderful and weird show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, reminds me that I have never understood [Degas]…. More than a hundred young naked women crowd the walls in paintings, drawings, prints, and pastels…. cumulative effect is both steamy and cold, like the clinging efflux of a sickroom humidifier. …. Degas, an eternal bachelor, projects a lofty indifference to women as people. Still, he can’t leave them alone……….The Dreyfus affair smoked him out as a vicious anti-Semite, and he once fired a model when he learned that she was Protestant….. aloofness veiled grasping commercial calculations. ….he was kind only in pictures and sculptures of horses.”

Lillesol Kane (“The Problem in Edgar Degas Images of Women and Modernity”, 1997?) takes a hard line: “I will show how the coincidence between style and subject in Degas’ oeuvre-between an avant-garde visual technique and the image of the clandestine prostitute-simply served to affirm the strong connection between avant-garde definitions of modernity and the depiction of working-class women as sexualised and commodified beings.


But two of his good friends were women…

On the other hand Degas was a friend of painter Berthe Morisot and defended her inclusion in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, against Manet’s strong opposition: “We also consider that Miss Berthe Morisot’s name and talent are too important to us to do without.”

And oddly too for a “misogynist” without many friends one of his best friends was a woman, the American painter Mary Cassatt who he met 1877. “There is someone who feels as I do.”, he said after seeing her work at the Salons. Cassatt moved to Paris 1873, and soon noticed Degas’ art, eg at Durand-Ruel’s gallery. She introduced an American female friend, Louisine Elder (later a prominent American suffragette), to Degas’ work, who in turn married a businessman (Henry Havenmeyer) who then amassed the largest Degas collection outside of Degas’ own. Degas respected her as an artist, asked her to show with the Independents, and worked with her in making prints. Also field work for his well known milliners’ images included many visits with Cassatt to the hat shops, to observe customers and staff. She remained a friend till his death but then was cautious acknowledging their relationship. Preferred her independence?


Obsessive realism not an agenda of repression?

It’s not clear how libidinous was Degas’ inclination to women (his sex drive was “mechanical and sporadic”! Catalogue from “Degas and the Nude,” Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, 2011), but he remained a bachelor with “ few, if any, romantic entanglements.”

There seems a good case Degas’ intention in his exhaustive depiction of women – milliners, laundresses, and singers,as well as dancers – was not polemical or judgemental but basically as a realist, curious about representing figures, groups of figures, an in particular capturing an illuminating moment in time, of movement and narrative.

Though one might be tempted to impute comment? It’s widely agreed Degas was not a “nice” man, but maybe his paintings of the working woman at least acknowledge the contributions of their roles. And some are sympathetic, like the sad lady in L’Absinthe (1876), and the commanding one in The Cafe Singer (The Singer with the Glove) (c 1878).

Degas knew his unflattering depiction of naked women in their bath routines was outside the contrived academic tradition of the nude: “Hitherto the nude has always been represented in poses that presuppose an audience, but these women of mine are honest, simple folk … Here is another; she is washing her feet. It is as if you looked through the keyhole.”

And tongue-in-cheek:Oh! Women can never forgive me. They [models] hate me, they can feel that I ‘m disarming them. I show them without their coquetry.


His career .. early…

After his early studies he initially planned to become a history painter (eg Jephthah’s Daughter (1859-60), Young Spartans Exercising (1860), and the curious Scene of war in the Middle Ages, formerly Misfortunes of Orleans (1865) which he exhibited at the 1865 Paris Salon. The young Degas shows skill in these paintings. They are all landscape settings and are already different, unusual, eg in their brighter colors and exploratory compositions.

But in the late 1860s (his early 30s) he abruptly switched to the focus exclusively on contemporary life, likely influenced in this after meeting the pioneering Manet (only 2 years older) in 1862, and also art critic and writer, an good friend, Louis Edmond Duranty who campaigned for realism and briefly published a journal Réalisme (1856-57), the slogan for which was “truth” (cf Degas’ 1879 portrait of him).

The late 1860s and the 1870s was his most productive work period, focussed mainly on oil paintings.

 …. later.. narrower subject matter, big shift to pastels and a shift in style

Later, through the 1880s, he shifted more to media other than painting, especially pastels (though he started in this medium much earlier) and some sculpture, and also (from the late 1880s) photography.

His subject matter narrowed, to ladies at the bath, and dancers, and also some landscapes.

And his painting style shifted, generally from “light and space” in his oil paintings to “form and colour” in his pastels. So generally his later works were more distinctive: flat, more colourful, expressive, coarsely textured and relaxed, even proto-abstract, and thus, ironically, in some ways reverted back closer to the conventional Impressionist model.

His deteriorating eyesight, which worsened 1893-95, may have encouraged this shift, or not.

Degas was the only nineteenth-century painter who made pastels his primary medium.” He “submitted a suite of nudes, all..pastel, to the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886… The figures in these pastels were criticized for their ungainly poses..” These pastels attracted much attention, from critics and other artists: “the most concentrated body of critical writing on the artist during his lifetime. … The overall reaction was positive and laudatory.”



Degas attracted some criticism in his lifetime but mostly, by his passing, he was rated highly in France.

Since then his reputation has remained secure, but more popular with the art establishment than the greater public.

His more relaxed and colourful later style appealed to later artists.

He was “a hero to the Symbolists, the movement … that repudiated Impressionism and Realism to expose the inner life. He was championed by the Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé.”, though the “realist” Degas was not sympathetic to this movement.

His work “was admired and collected by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.” Some of Picasso’s work certainly appears to have noticed Degas (eg Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s exhibition,“Picasso Looks at Degas” in 2010).

Through the auspices of the Tate Gallery Martin Hammer explains Degas’ influence on Francis Bacon, “Francis Bacon: Back to Degas”, Martin Hammer, Tate Papers no. 17 (Spring 2012), Rothenstein Lecture 2011



Degas was different, a complex, contradictory man. “…. fear, self-doubt, inner conflict. It made him a contrary, difficult man: a sociable misanthrope, a shy egomaniac, a cosmopolitan nationalist, an egalitarian snob. As an artist, he was constantly pulled between aesthetic extremes: reaction and revolution, past and present, fantasy and life.” (H.Cotter, 5 Aug.2005).

He was born Paris into a second division Franco-Italian banking family, to banker Auguste de Gas and his American wife (of Creole descent, who died when he was only 13), the eldest of five, in a wealthy Franco-Italian family. Auguste managed the Paris branch of his Neapolitan grandfather’s bank. In 1870 he amended his name to help disguise his elevated background. So he was well off to start.

He was well educated at school before becoming a copyist at the Louvre and starting at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts in April 1855 (at 21). Somewhat unusually his interest in art was encouraged by his family. However, “Competitive, mercurial, temperamentally a nonjoiner, Degas spent less than a year in art school and was largely self-taught.” He was well connected – had met Ingres in 1855, became friendly with Manet, and Pissarro, and later the young Gauguin – but preferred to work alone.

In 1855 at the Paris Exposition Universelle he was “enthralled by Gustave Courbet’s Pavilion of Realism.

Then July 1856 (at 22) he commenced an important 3 year visit to Italy, starting in Naples where his paternal grandfather lived, then Florence to see his aunt, Baroness Bellelli, whose family he celebrated with a famous portrait. The visit allowed considerable exposure to the old Italian greats, including the Renaissance.

Returning Paris in 1859 (25) he resumed copying at the Louvre, where– the story goes – in 1862 he met Manet by chance, both copying a Velazquez. Through this important friendship he met Renoir, Monet and Zola.

In 1865 he showed at the Paris Salon, the first of six consecutive showings to 1870.

From late 1872 for 4 months Degas visited his brother René and other family (including his uncle, his mother’s brother) in New Orleans, where they ran “a failing cotton exchange”. There he painted A Cotton Office in New Orleans (1873), a complex highly regarded figurative image and ”the only one of his works to be purchased by a museum in his lifetime”.

Back in France his father died 1874 and settling the estate revealed big debts by his brother, a financial crisis which forced Degas to sell his house and inherited art, and to rely on his art for income. Through sustained hard work re-built his fortune, but at some cost to his demeanour.

In 1890, at the age of 55, Degas rented a studio at 37 rue Victor Massé in Montmartre which he used for the next 22 years..”

In 1893-95 his eyesight worsened, 1n 1898-1908 he became progressively blind.”          

Later in life he increasingly retreated, as friendships “dissolved”, became reclusive, partly because of his failing eyesight, but part too reinforced too by his conservative strident anti-Semitism, evident especially during the prominent Dreyfus Affair (1890s to early 1900s). By then he had actively closed friendships with Jews and had joined the public anti-Dreyfus group. He painted some Jewish subjects earlier, 1865-70, though At the Bourse (1879) has been construed as anti-Semitic.

He ceased work in 1912, age 78, lingering till 1917.

Perhaps sadly, Degas’ large art collection was quickly sold by his family.


Auction prices

In June 1999 a pastel by Degas, Danseuse au repos, c1879, sold for the record-breaking sum of £17.6m at auction. It soldagain November 2008 for US$37m.

Degas’ bronze sculpture Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans sold in London auction June 2015 for £15.8m. It is one of 28 versions cast in 1922. Another sold Feb.2009 for £13.3m.


Some past exhibitions

Harvard university’s “Fogg Art Museum organized a Degas show as long ago as 1911. ..a low-key affair: 12 pieces on view for 10 days. But as the only one-man Degas exhibition in any museum anywhere during the artist’s lifetime, it made history.(H.Cotter, NY Times, 5 Aug. 2005).

“Degas”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, 1988-89.

“Degas Landscapes” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1994.

“Degas: Beyond Impressionism”, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The National Gallery, London, 1996-97.

“Degas and New Orleans: A French Impressionist in American”, New Orleans Museum of Art, 1999

Art In The Making: Degas is at the National Gallery, London, 2003-04.

“Degas at Harvard”, Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University, 2005

“Picasso Looks at Degas”, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass, 2010.

“Degas and the Nude”, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2011

”Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint”, Phillips Collection in Washington, 2011/12.

“Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement”, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2011

“Degas: An Impressionist Painter?” Museum of Impressionism, Giverny, 2015



Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty”, March 26 to July 24, 2016, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Degas: A New Vision”, National Gallery of Victoria International, 24 June – 18 September 2016, Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.




1869, At the Races in the Countryside, 36.5 x 55.9 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and detail.


1869, Marine, Soleil Couchant (sunset), pastel on paper, 23.5 x 31.4 cm, private


1870, Orchestra of the Opera, oil on canvas, 57 x 46 cm, Musee d’Orsay, Paris


1871, Woman at a window, oil on canvas, 45.9 x 61.3cm, Courtauld Galley:


1873, Cotton exchange New Orleans, oil, 73 cm × 92 cm, Musée des beaux-arts de Pau



1873–1876, Ballet class, oil on canvas, cm 85 x 75, Musee d’Orsay




1875, Peasant Girls Bathing in the Sea at Dusk, oil on canvas, 65 × 84 cm



c1877, Women at the Terrace of a Café, Pastel, 55 x 72 cm. Musée d’Orsay, shown in the third Impressionist Exhibition in 1877.


1878, The Café singer (The Singer with the Glove), pastel on canvas, 34 3/16 x 29 7/16 x 3 3/4 in, The (Harvard) Fogg Art Museum,


1879, Dinner at the ball, Oil on Canvas, 46cm x 67cm, Musée d’Orsay




1879 Diego Martelli, 110.4 x 99.8 cm, oil on canvas, Nat. Gallery Scotland;




1880-82, Waiting (“L’Attente), pastel (and charcoal?) on buff paper, 48.2 x 61cm, Getty Museum, Malibu





1882, The Little Milliners, pastel, 48 x 70 cm. Private collection




1883, The cup of tea, breakfast after bathing, 121 x 92 cm, private.



1886, Jockeys in the Rain, pastel, 47 x 63.5 cm, Burrell Collection, Glasgow

1890, Landscape in the mountains, monotype and pastel, 30.4 x 40cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art



1890 L’Estérel, monotype and pastel, 30 x 40 Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena


1890, Estérel Village, monotype, pastel, 29.9 x 39.9cm Cleveland Mus of Art



1890, Island in the sea, Un îlot en pleine mer, monotype in oil colors, heightened with pastel, 29.8 x 40 cm



1890, Le Cap Hornu près St Valery-sur-Somme, pastel over monotype, 30.5cm x 23.7cm, British Museum


1890, Squall in the mountains, monotype in oil colors on cream-color wove paper, pastel 30.3 x 39.8 cm Norton Simon Museum of Art



1890, Green landscape, pastel over monotype, 30 x 40cm, Collection of Mrs. Bertram Smith


1890, Russet landscape, pastel over monotype, 30 x 40 cm, private



1898c, At the Milliner’s, pastel, 91 x 75 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris


1899c, Self portrait (age 66), pastel on paper 47x32cm, Fondation Rau, Zurich.



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