Study of Gentile Bellini (1854 – 1855) by Edgar Degas

Study of Gentile Bellini - Edgar Degas - 1854 - 1855

Artwork Information

TitleStudy of Gentile Bellini
ArtistEdgar Degas
Date1854 - 1855
Art MovementImpressionism

About Study of Gentile Bellini

The artwork titled “Study of Gentile Bellini” was created by the artist Edgar Degas between the years 1854 and 1855. Although Degas is primarily associated with the Impressionism movement, this particular work is a sketch and study rather than an exemplification of the Impressionist style that Degas would later help to define. The artistic genre here indicates a preliminary exploration or examination of subject matter, rather than a finished impressionistic piece.

The artwork presents a detailed study of a face, likely emulating the style or subject of the renowned artist Gentile Bellini, as the title suggests. The figure depicted is rendered with fine gradations of light and shadow, conveying a sense of three-dimensionality and depth. The subject wears what appears to be a period hat or head covering that frames the face, emphasizing the contours of the forehead and cheeks. The serene expression and direct gaze are notable features, captured with meticulous attention to detail.

The manner in which the sketch has been executed suggests a focus on understanding facial structure and the effects of light on form, which is typical of an artist’s study. Degas’s interest in human form and portraiture is evidenced by the precision of the lines and shading used to define the subject’s facial features. The subtle variance in tonal values suggests a preoccupation with capturing a lifelike representation of the subject, which could serve as a basis for further works or as a method of honing the artist’s skills in rendering the human visage. Despite the later association of Degas with the vibrant and dynamic compositions of Impressionism, this early work displays his classical training and his capacity for careful observation—a foundation that would underpin his evolution as an artist.

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