393
393

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Edgar Degas
TÊTE D'HOMME
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 516,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
393

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Edgar Degas
TÊTE D'HOMME
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 516,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Edgar Degas
1834 - 1917
TÊTE D'HOMME
Stamped Degas (lower left); inscribed Rome (lower right)
Charcoal and pencil on paper laid down on paper
15 1/8 by 10 in.
38.4 by 25.4 cm
Executed in Rome circa 1860. 
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau.

Provenance

Estate of the artist (and sold: Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, Atelier Edgar Degas, 4ème vente, July 2-4, 1919, lot 94b)
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 7, 1947, lot 41
Private Collection, South America
Acquired from the above

Catalogue Note

Although Degas was a painter, printmaker and sculptor as well, his drawings are among the most intimate and spontaneous reflections of the rather reserved personality of the artist. Drawing was for Degas, as it was for many artists, an initial response or reaction to an idea, and Degas recorded hundreds of these reactions over his career. As a collector of drawings himself, Degas did not consider drawings to be casual productions or a lesser art form, but rather things to be “prized, framed and even hung on a wall” (Jean Sutherland Boggs, Drawings by Degas (exhibition catalogue), City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis & traveling, 1966, p. 16).

In his early drawings, we can see the intense respect for the past and artistic tradition the artist held, who as a young boy would spend days copying paintings in the Louvre and prints at the Bibliothèque nationale. Even within the restrictions of the subjects of his early drawings, Degas proved to have a probing and adventurous spirit. “What comes across most obviously in the portraits, and even in the copies and sketches for historical works, is a concern for the psychology of the human being, particularly the human being in a dramatic moment” (ibid., p. 17). Rather than imbuing his academic nudes and studies with a classical sense of static, he instead rendered them with a distinct sense of human drama. In the present work, the drama is quite literally visible on the surface of the sheet, in the theatrical power of strong light and shadow created by the charcoal and the estompe used to blend the medium. The effect is furthered in the subject's twisted and anguished face. Degas made three other drawings of this curly-haired and bearded man in various poses, and he was clearly interested in the dramatic possibilities of a head of such forceful features. The present work is among the most intense; the figure’s eyes are turned upward and his mouth is open in a pose that recalls the heavenly pleas depicted by seventeenth-century Baroque painters (see fig. 1).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York