431
431

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION

Edgar Degas
PORTRAIT D'HOMME ASSIS
Estimate
300,000500,000
JUMP TO LOT
431

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION

Edgar Degas
PORTRAIT D'HOMME ASSIS
Estimate
300,000500,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Edgar Degas
1834 - 1917
PORTRAIT D'HOMME ASSIS
Oil on canvas
14 3/4 by 11 3/4 in.
37.5 by 29.8 cm
Painted circa 1864-68. 
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Provenance

Estate of the artist
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (acquired from the above)
Raphaël Gérard, Paris (and sold: Palais Galliera, Paris, December 3, 1964, lot 64)
Dr. Sachs, La Corneuve
Galerie Spiess, Paris
Harcourts Gallery, San Francisco
Sale: Christie's, London, June 25, 1998, lot 178
Acquired at the above sale

Literature

Phillipe Brame & Theodore Reff, Degas et son oeuvre: A Supplement, New York, 1984, no. 44, illustrated p. 47

Catalogue Note

While many artists of the time relied on portrait commissions as a stable source of income, Degas painted them of his own personal volition. He initially hoped to be a historical painter and had copied many Old Master paintings to hone his craft. The keen sense of composition, posture and aristocracy in Portrait d'homme assis are the residual effects of Degas’ study of Old Master paintings transformed to fit his interpretation on the modern portrait.

In Degas’ never-ending quest to reconcile the craft of the Old Masters and the evolving canon of his contemporaries, he was left with incomplete painting principles which were reflected in his seemingly unfinished paintings (see fig. 1). Felix Baumann and Marianne Karabelnik wrote on Degas’ non finitos: “Degas’s non finito was therefore quite intentional. It might indicate something important or something unimportant; it might emphasize a gesture or a hand to such an extent that it came to signify the essential, making anything extra unnecessary. Or it might serve quite simply to enliven the picture, to give the pictorial qualities of the painting primacy over the portrait, to beguile or to baffle the viewer. But it also signified Degas’s constant search for the ‘craft’ of the Old Masters" (Felix Baumann & Marianne Karabelnik, “Introduction,” in Degas Portraits, London, 1994, p. 13).

In Portrait d'homme assis, Degas explores the anatomy of the seated pose. The subject is shrouded in an assured yet mysterious aura that permeates the painting. Degas also plays with the effect of light, framing the face of the sitter with bright highlights and the collar framing the face from below.  

Emily Maurer writes on Degas’ relationship to his portrait paintings, “Degas experimented in the portrait, breaking the restrictions of the genre wide open. He expanded the vocabulary of the portrait not by sharpening his observation, but rather by formal innovation. In a series of bold steps, Degas rethought the design, the framing, the viewing angle, the compositional structure, the repertoire of attitudes and gestures and the functions of colour in the portrait” (Emily Maurer, “Portraits as Pictures: Degas between Taking a Likeness and Making a Work of Art (Tableau),” in ibid., p. 101).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
New York