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The Private Collection of Edgar Degas

The Private Collection of Edgar Degas

Various authors
368 pages
426 illustrations
9 x 12 in
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When Edgar Degas died in 1917, his enormous art collection, consisting of several thousand paintings, drawings, and prints, came to light. This remarkable assemblage included great numbers of works by the French nineteenth-century masters whom Degas revered—Delacroix, Ingres, and Daumier—and at the same time demonstrated Degas's profound interest in the art of certain of his contemporaries, particularly Manet, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Mary Cassatt. Dispersed when it was sold at auction in 1918 during the bombardment of Paris, the collection is now the subject of both an illuminating exhibition and this accompanying catalogue.

In a series of essays, some previously published and some written for this book, major scholars discuss, from various perspectives, Degas's collection and its relation to his own art. Ann Dumas vividly describes Degas's passionate appreciation and compulsive acquisition of works of art, his musings about founding a museum, and the nineteenth-century world of art collecting in which he moved. Gary Tinterow reveals the staggering quantity and quality of his own works that Degas kept until his death—not the ballet dancers of his middle years, but stunning early portraits and mysterious narrative paintings, boldly composed late works that explode with color, and examples of his consummate draftsmanship.

Degas's own artistic thinking was significantly influenced by the artists he admired, and this subject is explored by several authors. Theodore Reff's classic essay on Ingres, Delacroix, and Daumier demonstrates the complex ways Degas comprehended the genius of each master and in some way made it his own. Degas's personal and artistic relationship with Manet is investigated by Mari Kálmán Meller and Juliet Wilson-Bareau, and his protective encouragement of Gauguin is described by Françoise Cachin. Richard Kendall points out the intriguing parallels and divergences between Degas's and Cézanne's artistic achievements. The history of a printmaking endeavor in which Degas collaborated with Mary Cassatt and other artists is presented by Barbara Stern Shapiro. Colta Ives explicates how Degas assimilated the lessons he derived from Japanese prints.

The dramatic revelation and then the auctioning off of Degas's collection constitute still another story. Caroline Durand-Ruel Godfroy conveys a sense of the frantic behind-the-scenes activity at the Durand-Ruel gallery, which inventoried the collection and managed its sale. Susan Alyson Stein narrates the chain of events by which the Metropolitan Museum, despite wartime difficulties, ultimately succeeded in acquiring masterworks from Degas's collection and studio. Rebecca A. Rabinow describes the animated press coverage of the sales on both sides of the Atlantic and provides a compilation of the actual writings.

A second, companion volume is an illustrated summary catalogue of the entire collection. Richly illustrated with hundreds of works from Degas's collection, this comprehensive study of a great artist's artistic passions is a book of exceptional interest.

Madame Jacques-Louis Leblanc (Françoise Poncelle, 1788–1839), Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres  French, Oil on canvas
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Jacques-Louis Leblanc (1774–1846), Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres  French, Oil on canvas
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Rue Transnonain,  le 15 Avril, 1834, Plate 24 of l'Association mensuelle, Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph
Honoré Daumier
July 1834
What the bourgeois calls a slight distraction,  from 'The good bourgeois,' published in "Le Charivari", Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph on wove paper; second state of two (Delteil)
Multiple artists/makers
August 30, 1846
Multiple artists/makers
January 7, 1847
Baissez le Rideau, La Farce est Jouée (Bring Down the Curtain; the Farce is Over), published in La Caricature no. 201, September 11, 1834, Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
September 11, 1834
Maternal Caress, Mary Cassatt  American, Drypoint, aquatint and softground etching, printed in color from three plates; sixth state of six (Mathews & Shapiro)
Mary Cassatt
Delightful Land, Paul Gauguin  French, Woodcut printed in color on wove paper
Paul Gauguin
Edgar Degas at the age of 72, Paul Paulin  French, Bronze, French
Paul Paulin
Montagutelli Frères
modeled 1907, cast date unknown
Votre tableau me plairait aussi...., from Les Bons Bourgeois, published in Le Charivari, October 12, 1846, Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph; second state of two (Delteil)
Multiple artists/makers
October 12, 1846
The Collector of Prints, Edgar Degas  French, Oil on canvas
Edgar Degas
Study for the Portrait of Louis-François Bertin (1766–1841), Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres  French, Black chalk and graphite
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?), Edgar Degas  French, Oil on canvas
Edgar Degas
The Singer in Green, Edgar Degas  French, Pastel on light blue laid paper
Edgar Degas
ca. 1884
Studies of a Damned Man, for "The Barque of Dante", Eugène Delacroix  French, Pen, brown ink, black wash over black chalk and graphite
Eugène Delacroix
Multiple artists/makers
October 6, 1842
The Past, the Present, and the Future (Le passé – Le présent – L'Avenir), published in La Caricature, no. 166, Jan. 9, 1834, Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
January 9, 1834
The Orchestra During the Performance of a Tragedy (L'orchestre pendant qu'on joue une tragédie), from Croquis Musicaux, published in Le Charivari,  April 5, 1852, Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
April 5, 1852
Multiple artists/makers
The Laundress, Honoré Daumier  French, Oil on oak
Honoré Daumier
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