Henri De Gas and His Neice, Lucie Degas (c.1876) by Edgar Degas

Henri De Gas and His Neice, Lucie Degas - Edgar Degas - c.1876

Artwork Information

TitleHenri De Gas and His Neice, Lucie Degas
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, US

About Henri De Gas and His Neice, Lucie Degas

The artwork titled “Henri De Gas and His Neice, Lucie Degas” is a quintessential creation by the artist Edgar Degas, dating from approximately 1876. Rendered in oil on canvas, this portrait is an exemplar of the Impressionist movement, characterized by loose brushwork and an emphasis on the depiction of light and movement. It can be viewed at its permanent residence in the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois, United States.

In the artwork, we observe a domestic scene capturing an intimate moment between two figures, presumably family members given the title. The elder man, Henri de Gas, is seated, his attention absorbed by the newspapers in his hand. His pose suggests a moment of repose or contemplation as he reads, his gaze directed away from the viewer, and his hand pensively touching his chin. The use of shadow and light accentuates the concentration on his face, contrasting with the partially illuminated papers.

Beside him stands a young girl, Lucie Degas, identified as his niece. Her presence contrasts with her uncle’s, as she appears to gaze directly out of the frame, her attention seemingly caught by something beyond the immediate environment. Her expression is one of solemnity or quiet curiosity, rendered with a neutrality that is evocative of the period’s portraiture genre.

The interaction—or lack thereof—between the two figures conveys a narrative of family life and generational divide. The economy and suggestiveness of detail in the background elements, such as the chair, book, and window, are typical of Degas’s approach, emphasizing the subjects over their surroundings. The overall composition, color palette, and brushwork reflect the impressionistic inclination to capture a fleeting moment in time, imbued with an emotional or psychological resonance that transcends the mere representation of its subjects.

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