MADAME EDMONDO MORBILLI, C1869
When it comes to Edgar Degas, the poet and critic Paul Valery, who was acquainted with the artist in his later years, had much to say. “This was a man who could be a dandy,” Valery wrote, “whose manners, when he chose, were of the most natural distinction, a man who spent his evenings in the wings at the opera, a frequent visitor in the paddock at Longchamp, an intensely acute observer of the human form, a cruel connoisseur of all the shapes and attitudes of women, an expert judge of the finest horses, the most intelligent, the most demanding, the most merciless draughtsman in the world …”
It is the draughtsman rather than the dandy who is celebrated in Christopher Lloyd’s book Edgar Degas Drawings and Pastels, now issued in paperback in time for the centenary of the artist’s death this month.
“He falls into that rare category of artists,” Lloyd writes in the very first paragraph, “of whom it can be said that every mark they make on paper is worthy of consideration.”
For evidence, just look at this pastel drawing of his sister now held in a private collection, a symphony of colour and line.
Taken from Edgar Degas Drawings and Pastels, by Christopher Lloyd, published by Thames & Hudson, £16.95.