Edgar Degas by N. V. Brodskaia
By N. V. Brodskaia
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Extra info for Edgar Degas
Degas’ references to the Parisian traffic in female flesh were often scrupulously discreet – a glimpse of a gentleman’s black trousers amongst the scenery of the opera, or of the gaudy plumage of a courtesan’s hat at the race-course as her carriage passes from view. Sometimes it is no more than a pervasively suggestive atmosphere that would nonetheless have been quite perceptible to men of Degas’ class and tastes. This murky world of female commerce, in which predatory top-hat wearing males indulged, is illuminated in a fascinating, if somewhat lurid, way by two anonymous Parisian publications of the 1880s, when Degas was at the height of his career.
The Vieil abonné seems more interested in the physical attractions of the dancers and in the racy details of their private lives The Dance Class, c. 1873-1876. 5 x 75 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. qxp 26-Dec-11 4:23 PM Page 32 than he is in the finer points of their dancing techniques. Mlle Eugénie Fiocre, the only female dancer described in the book and identifiably painted by Degas, is said to have ‘a nose for which an umbrella would be useful’ – Degas’ study of her shows that she had a rather turned up and exceptionally pretty nose – ‘but what a figure!
To begin with, we open on the fifteenth. We must hurry, then. We shall have to rearrange our rendezvous for the 6th or 7th then, or perhaps a little later, but soon enough that we can make the catalogue for the opening day. , etc. Has Burty given you any details, or would you like a summary of all the information? I will meet with you; you may change the date if it does not suit you. Thursday morning at 11 o’clock, at our premises. Have a look at the place; we can talk after if there is still the need for it.