In 1995 the Getty Museum acquired a sketchbook (ca. 1877) by the prolific artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Its images embrace a variety of themes from everyday Parisian lifethe café, concert, brothels, and balletand were created during Degas's weekly visits to the home of writer Ludovic Halèvy, the first owner of the sketchbook. They show Degas's remarkable powers of observation, as well as the sureness and economy of his line.
Reproduced here are twenty-eight pages from the sketchbook, along with a brilliant essay that places Degas within the contexts of both the cultivated salon of the Halèvy family and the larger world of late-nineteenth-century Paris, which the notoriously difficult artist both celebrated and shunned. In addition, the book features a postscript by artist David Hockney, in which he discusses the creation of the sketchbook.
Carol Armstrong is a professor of art history at Princeton University and the author of Odd Man Out: Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas.
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