Self-Portrait (1855 – c.1856) by Edgar Degas

Self-Portrait - Edgar Degas - 1855 - c.1856

Artwork Information

ArtistEdgar Degas
Date1855 - c.1856
Dimensions40.6 x 34.3 cm
Art MovementImpressionism,Realism

About Self-Portrait

The artwork in question is a self-portrait by Edgar Degas, created in the mid-19th century, specifically between 1855 and circa 1856. Degas, who later became renowned for his contributions to the Impressionist and Realist art movements, executed this work in oil, a medium traditional for its era. Measuring 40.6 by 34.3 centimeters, the genre of this artwork is classified as a self-portrait, a study that often provides insight into the artist’s self-perception and technique during the time of its creation.

Upon examining the artwork, one observes the thoughtful composition depicting the artist himself. Degas appears directly facing the viewer with a somber expression, imparting a certain seriousness or contemplative mood. His dark hair is neatly combed, and his gaze is fixed and penetrating, suggesting an engagement with the viewer or an inward focus. The choice of attire seems reflective of the period, with a high-collared shirt and a hint of a crimson necktie adding a subtle dash of color to an otherwise tonally subdued palette.

The use of light and shadow in the portrait is notable, with Degas’s face softly illuminated against the dark background, highlighting his facial features and the texture of his clothing. The brushwork, while precise, does not lean into the fine detail that some other Realist works might exhibit, aligning with the looser and more expressive techniques that would typify Impressionist painting. The portrait serves not only as a visual record of the young artist but as an artifact indicating the early development of his style and aesthetic inclinations.

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