Portrait of Madame Ernest May (1881 – 1882) by Edgar Degas

Portrait of Madame Ernest May - Edgar Degas - 1881 - 1882

Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of Madame Ernest May
ArtistEdgar Degas
Date1881 - 1882
Dimensions41 x 30 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Portrait of Madame Ernest May

The artwork entitled “Portrait of Madame Ernest May” is a creation by the artist Edgar Degas, crafted between the years 1881 and 1882. This piece, executed using pastel as the medium, is a distinctive example of the Impressionist movement. The portrait has dimensions of 41 by 30 centimeters, aligning with the genre of portraiture, and is currently housed in a private collection.

The artwork depicts the countenance of Madame Ernest May with a direct yet softened gaze, engaging the viewer. Degas has masterfully rendered her facial features with an interplay of light and shadow, imbuing the subject with a sense of depth and realism amidst the overall soft-focus effect that is characteristic of Impressionism. The choice of pastel allows for a rich texture and subtlety in the tonal variations, particularly evident in the rendering of the subject’s skin, hair, and the fur collar of her attire.

The background is composed of understated blue and brown hues that complement the subject without overshadowing her presence. Degas’ use of color is restrained yet evocative, capturing the essence of the sitter in a manner that suggests both elegance and introspection. The portrait is not just a likeness but also conveys an emotional complexity and a snapshot of the subject’s persona, which is a testament to Degas’ skill as a portraitist.

In true Impressionist fashion, the artwork eschews minute detail in favor of capturing the fleeting impression of the subject, with brushstrokes and color choices that suggest the transient nature of light and the artist’s immediate perception. This piece stands as a testament to Degas’ contribution to the Impressionist movement and his unique ability to capture the subtleties of human expression through pastel.

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