Charcoal and white chalk
Support: Brown wove paper
Sheet: 44 x 31.3 cm (17 5/16 x 12 5/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1953.268
The ghostly white tone of Diego Martelli's face was likely pink or peach when Degas made the work, and has gradually faded over time.
This sheet is one of many studies that Degas made in 1879 of his friend and supporter, the Italian art critic and patron Diego Martelli (1839-1896). Martelli was one of the most important champions of progressive modern art in Italy, and his writings on the 1879 Impressionist show became famous, playing a crucial role in publicizing the movement. This sheet relates to two painted portraits of the critic, one in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, and the other in the National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires.
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