“C’est vrai. Voilá quelqu’un qui sent comme moi. (It is true. There is someone who feels as I do).”

Edgar Degas, born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, in Paris, France, today in 1834 (d. 27 September 1917.) A superb draftsman, especially identified for his sinuous and beautiful studies of ballet dancers. Ever the observer, his work also caught the dance of the more mundane: capturing a complexity of moods and movement in parts of everyday life. Here is one of my favourites:

'Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town,' Edgar Degas, 1878, oil.

‘Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town,’ Edgar Degas, 1878, oil.

As well as his raw and intriguing self-portrait he did in 1863, especially compared to his self-portrait painted almost 10 years before.

Edgar Degas "Self Portrait," 1863, oil on board. Edgar Degas "Self Portrait," 1855, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Edgar Degas “Self Portrait,” 1863, oil on board. Edgar Degas “Self Portrait,” 1855, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Although a difficult and somewhat formidable ‘old curmudgeon’ personality, I do love this story: In his late years Degas was chatting in his studio with one of his few friends (and admirer,) English painter Walter Richard Sickert. They decided to visit a café. Young Sickert got ready to summon a fiacre, a horse-drawn cab. Degas objected. “Personally, I don’t like cabs. You don’t see anyone. That’s why I love to ride on the omnibus-you can look at people. We were created to look at one another, weren’t we?”


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