Degas: The Private Impressionist

Exhibition Website

Dec 22 2018 - Mar 24 2019


Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is one of the most revered artists of all time, a French Impressionist renowned for his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings that take the viewer deep into the world of late 19th century Paris. Interested in the psychology and everyday lives of his subjects, Degas is famous for a number of recurring themes in his work, foremost among them the subject of dance and ballet, in particular. Indeed, more than half of his works depict dancers.

Degas was the most eclectic of the Impressionists, however, both in the diversity of his subject matter and in his experimentation with various manners and techniques. With work by Degas in many media — from painting and monotype to sculpture and drawing — and exploring his interests in all arenas of French life, this show highlights Degas’ prodigiousness and exquisite draftsmanship. 

 The exhibition Degas: The Private Impressionist reveals the artist’s particular masterly in depicting lifelike movement, as seen in his rendition of dancers, racecourse subjects, and female nudes. His portraits, too, are most notable for their emotional complexity and their portrayal of human isolation. At the beginning of his career, Degas wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, though, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917) and August Clot (French1858-1936) BEFORE THE RACE, ca.1895 color lithograph
Edgar Degas (French, 1834 -1917) LA CHANTEUSE, ca.1888-89 lithograph with Chine applique

Whether you go or not, the full-color hardcover catalogue Degas: The Private Impressionist documents this exhibition of Robert Flynn Johnson's collection of works on paper by Edgar Degas and  his circle of colleagues, friends, and peers.  It includes essays on each work by Johnson, Curator Emeritus of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Art in San Francisco, and by Louise Siddons, Ph. D., Curator and Assistant Professor of Art, Oklahoma State University.  The collection demonstrates the enormous influence of Degas, and the breadth of the collection illuminates the delights of educated and focused art acquisition, especially valuable in this era of "brand names" and "investment opportunities!" A delightful afterword by William Rothenstein (British 1872-1945), a fascinating and insightful recollection of Degas, ends the book with an unusually intimate depiction of the master: "As for Degas' [bed]room, it was in the same state of neglect as the others, for everything about this house bespoke a man who now clung to life and nothing beyond that....There was an odd piece of Empire or Louis-Philippe furniture. A dried-out toothbrush in a glass, its bristles half-tinged a dull pink...." 

Select Degas: The Private Impressionist to learn more, or to place this book in your Amazon shopping cart. Your Amazon purchase through this link generates a small commission that will help to fund the search engine.

  • Painting
  • European
  • 19th Century
  • Impressionism
  • Edgar Degas

Exhibition Venues & Dates