Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917): Portrait of Henri Michel-Levy in

Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917): Portrait of Henri Michel-Levy in

1/17/2021, 10:58:34 AM
Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917): Portrait of Henri Michel-Levy in his studio, 1879, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal This work by Degas depicts the painter Henri Michel-Lévy, an artist who had links to some of the figures associated with the Impressionist movement. Besides the painting sketched on the right of the composition, an updated version of the theme of the fête galante in the Impressionist style, attention should be drawn to the painting The Regattas, since this detail allows a link to be drawn between the dummy on the ground and its representation in the painting. In both cases, the mannequin is shown with its back to the artist, a resource that had already come to be known as an 'imitation of the imitation of reality'. The complex and disturbing world of the composition appears to suggest an original reading of the relationship between truth and illusion, and may also constitute a reflection on art’s raison d'être and the inevitability of death. Finally, within the cramped and solitary space, the artist introduces a further element that disturbs the more or less static appearance of the representation through the use of decentred framing and an unexpected perspective. In this unusual scene the strongest presence is that of Degas, the clear-eyed and pitiless observer of reality. (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian)

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