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Sheet of Studies and Sketches

Sheet of Studies and Sketches


Edgar Degas

(French, 1834-1917)

Graphite (central head study), pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, and watercolor

Support: Cream(3) wove paper

Sheet: 30.3 x 23.5 cm (11 15/16 x 9 1/4 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1951.430

Fun Fact

The date Degas wrote on this drawing is incorrect; he didn't visit Florence until 1858, and must have inscribed the sheet years later.


Although the sheet is inscribed "Flor. 1857" in the artist’s own hand, the date is incorrect. Degas visited Florence for the first time in 1858 and must have written the inscription many years later. The fragmented, disassociated imagery makes the drawing a beguiling document of artistic process and the young artist’s engagement with the art of the past. The refined female head drawn in graphite was copied from a drawing then attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in the Uffizi Gallery. Other sketches show Degas’s responses to Florentine sculpture. The small study in the upper right was likely made from life, perhaps an impromptu portrait of his cousin Giulia Bellelli.

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