Lot 130
  • 130

EDGAR DEGAS | Homme nu assis - rectoÉtude d’hommes - verso

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Edgar Degas
  • Homme nu assis - rectoÉtude d’hommes - verso
  • stamped Degas and dated Rome 1856 (lower left) - rectostamped with the atelier mark (lower right) - verso
  • pencil on paper - recto & verso
  • 28 by 20.4cm., 11 by 8in.
  • Drawn in Rome in 1856.


Estate of the Artist (sale: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Atelier Degas, 4ème Vente, 2nd-4th July 1919, lot 97d)
Dr Jean Pozzi, Paris
John Nicholas Streep, New York
David Daniels, New York (acquired from the above in January 1971; sale: Christie's, New York, 11th May 1995, lot 309)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Dayton, Dayton Art Institute, French Artists in Italy 1600 - 1900, 1971, no. 51, illustrated in the catalogue 


Please note that a professional condition report is available for this lot. Please contact the department for further details on +44 207 293 6413.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Truly remarkable for the extraordinary quality of the draughtsmanship, the present work was executed in Rome during the three years that the young artist spent in Italy from 1856 to 1859. The different sources of the recto and verso demonstrate the two important ways in which Degas acquired the essentials of an artist’s classical education. The recto, Homme nu, assis, is an académie (or nude study) testament to Degas’ mastery of the discipline of drawing from life. Seeking to understand the muscular power of his male model and the underlying dynamics of the human body, Degas’ attention to detail and precision of line is exquisite. The verso, Étude d’hommes nus is a record of the lessons Degas absorbed by copying the Old Master works he found all around him in the Vatican museums and local churches. The source has been identified as The Climbers, an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi after Michaleangelo’s lost cartoon for the Battle of Cascina, a fresco which was never executed.

Degas left for Italy in July 1856 at the age of twenty-two, sailing first from Marseilles to Naples where he spent the summer months at his grandfather’s home and painted a masterly portrait of his cousin Giovanna Bellelli. He reached Rome in October and promptly enrolled in evening life drawing sessions at the French Academy in the Villa Medici. Under the directorship of Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres, the French Academy had had a strict policy that meant that these classes were exclusively reserved to pensioners but after 1840 they were opened up to non-pensioners such as Degas who found it a convenient place to meet and study. It was here that Degas met another young French artist named Gustave Moreau. The pair frequently attended the same life drawing sessions and several drawings survive which depict the same model, drawn at the same time from different angles. Such is the case with Degas’ 1858 drawing Homme assis, étude de nu, whose companion work by Gustave Moreau (now in the permanent collection of the Musée Gustave Moreau, Paris) features the same model with his neatly trimmed moustache and wavy hair parted to one side. Indeed, a comparison with Moreau’s drawings of this period often allows us to date Degas’ life studies with far greater accuracy than the artist himself who more often than not annotated his work of this period with generic dates when viewing them again in later years. The subtle modelling of the muscular torso and the similarity between the two seated poses indicate that the present work, Homme nu, assis, may well have been drawn at a similar time to the 1858 drawings, slightly later than the inscribed date of 1856.

The present work was once a part of the celebrated collection of David Daniels. Assembled with tremendous passion, taste and discernment over a period of forty years, Daniels’ collection included a large number of drawings and pastels by Degas and a particularly strong group of early drawings of male models drawn at the French Academy in Rome. On the occasion of its dispersion in 1995, Theodore Reff described the unifying theme of a group that included the present work as testament to ‘Degas’ dedication to drawing, to line as the principal means of defining form and giving vitality and expression, with an energy and inflection that continually evolves’ (Theodore Reff, Degas in the Daniels Collection, Paris, March, 1995, n.p.).

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau.