Pagans and Degas’s Father (1882) by Edgar Degas

Pagans and Degas's Father - Edgar Degas - 1882

Artwork Information

TitlePagans and Degas's Father
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, US

About Pagans and Degas's Father

The artwork titled “Pagans and Degas’s Father” is a creation by the acclaimed artist Edgar Degas that dates back to the year 1882. This piece is executed in pastel, a medium that Degas was particularly fond of and adept in utilizing. The artwork embodies the aesthetic principles of Impressionism, a movement known for its emphasis on the accurate depiction of light and its effect on the natural appearance of forms. As a genre, it is categorized as a sketch and study, indicating that it served possibly as a preparatory work or an exercise in exploring form and composition. Currently, this artwork is part of the collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, located in Philadelphia, PA, US.

The artwork is a fascinating study in contrasts and composition. It features the figure of a man engaged in reading a document, which he holds in his hands. The man appears to be seated, with his body turned slightly away from the viewer, creating a sense of depth and perspective. He is cloaked in dark attire that absorbs light, allowing Degas to explore the interplay between shadow and color. In sharp counterpoint to the dark tones of the figure’s clothing, the pastel medium allows for the use of vibrant colors on the document and surrounding elements, including the chair and the background environment. The swift, expressive strokes lend the work a spontaneous and dynamic quality, which is characteristic of sketches.

The subdued yet rich application of color — primarily blues, greens, and earthen tones — gives the artwork a moody atmosphere, while the loose, suggestive lines of the background hint at an incomplete narrative or context that surrounds the central figure. This approach of Degas is indicative of the Impressionist’s fascination with moments of daily life and the portrayal of subjects in candid settings, where the focus is on capturing the essence of the scene instead of minute, realistic details.

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