67. Edgar Degas

Paris 1834 – 1917 Paris

View of the Quirinal, c. 1856-1859

Above all a painter of urban pleasures and the human figure, Degas preferred working in the studio and was critical of the plein air landscape artist. He claimed he was soon overcome with boredom when contemplating nature and satirised the outdoor antics of his Impressionist colleagues by stating that painting, after all, “is not a sport!”.1 Nevertheless, he created landscapes throughout most of his career, (cat. 94). Unlike the paysages imaginaires Degas produced later in life, the ones he created early on in Italy show identifiable subjects and were executed before the motif. In this view, the manica lunga of the Quirinal Palace anchors a composition dominated by a luminous mauve sky painted swiftly with a broad brush. None of these Italian works are signed or dated, but most can be traced back through collectors or members of Degas’ family, such as his nephew Henri Fèvre who was once the owner of this study.

1“Voyons, la peinture, ce n’est pas du sport !” https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k96923754/f99.item.r=sport.