The Letters of Edgar Degas
By (author) Theodore Reff
Publication date:22 June 2020
Length of book:1464 pages
PublisherWildenstein Plattner Institute
In this critical edition of Edgar Degas’s correspondence, eminent Degas scholar Theodore Reff transcribes, dates, and elucidates more than 1,200 letters written by the artist. Presented both in the original French and in English translation, these letters reveal a range of the artist’s interests and opinions, preoccupations, and beliefs, some of which dramatically correct notions about Degas derived from anecdotal sources. The scope and variety of the texts build a complex, fascinating portrait of the artist and his work, providing new information on his artistic theories, his relations with both avant-garde and conservative artists, and his central role in the Impressionist exhibitions, as well as offering new insights into his private life and the social and intellectual milieu that he inhabited. Known for his finely wrought sonnets and scathing witticisms, Degas is also revealed to be an ambitious and inventive writer, for whom verbal expression was a major source of pleasure throughout his life. Expressions of his strong personality, the letters display features also seen in his visual style—they are verbal equivalents of his forceful, insightful, and trenchant draftsmanship.
Featuring an English translation of the artist’s original letters, extensive annotations and appendixes, and an engaging introduction, this is an indispensable reference for scholars and specialists of this major artist as well as anyone interested in French Impressionism and nineteenth-century art or French and European history and literature.
—Tobias Grey, The Wall Street Journal