Robert D'Arista, Monotype

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sketchbooks: Edgar Degas

In 1877 Edgar Degas attended weekly soirées at the home of his friend Ludovic Halévy, a writer of opera librettos and popular romances. At these gatherings, Degas drew portraits of his friends and made studies for his own work. He quickly filled this sketchbook with drawings that show his preoccupation with a variety of theatrical themes, including the café-concert and the ballet. When he completed the sketchbook, Degas presented it to his friend, who shared his passion for theater and music. Halévy later added inscriptions to many of the pages--a useful addition for scholars, as they distinguish Degas's contributions from those by other friends who occasionally drew in the book. Halévy inscribed the date 1877 and the words Croquis de Degas (Degas's Sketchbook) on the book's cover.

During his lifetime, Degas filled thirty-eight sketchbooks, using them for a variety of purposes: recording the appearance of a work of art he admired or a person he observed, visualizing a fictional scene he had read, or experimenting with a new idea. For scholars, this important collection of reliably dated documents provides first-hand information on aspects of his working methods.

Souces: The Getty Museum

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