Portrait of Eugene Manet (study) (c.1875) by Edgar Degas

Portrait of Eugene Manet (study) - Edgar Degas - c.1875

Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of Eugene Manet (study)
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Portrait of Eugene Manet (study)

The artwork “Portrait of Eugene Manet (study)” is a creation of the renowned Impressionist artist Edgar Degas, dated circa 1875. This work, executed in oil on cardboard, is a testament to the Impressionist movement’s exploration of light and form. Notably categorized as a “sketch and study,” this piece resides in a private collection, emphasizing the intimate nature of its creation and the personal significance to the artist.

In viewing the artwork, one is immediately drawn to the figure of Eugene Manet, whose portrait is rendered with a certain immediacy and loose handling characteristic of a study. The subject’s attire is informal, dressed in brown tones that blend into the similarly hued background, suggesting not so much a finished portrait but a moment of artistic contemplation. The depth given to the subject’s features, particularly the eyes and the full beard, is contrasted with the roughly sketched hat and incomplete backdrop, highlighting Degas’ focus on capturing the essence of the sitter rather than depicting a polished, detailed likeness.

The choice of color is limited, perhaps to emphasize the raw capture of the subject’s character, with muted tones dominating the composition. The face is thoughtfully modeled, showing an interplay of shadow and light that lends the subject a three-dimensional quality despite the overall roughness of the piece. There is an impression of the subject turning towards the viewer, capturing a momentary connection that speaks of Degas’ ability to relay the psychological presence of his sitters.

This study not only gives insight into Degas’ artistic process but also bridges the personal connection between artist and subject, as Eugene Manet, the brother of fellow artist Édouard Manet, was part of the vibrant art community in which Degas was an integral figure. The artwork stands as a fragmentary but evocative piece of the larger tapestry that is Impressionist portraiture.

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