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Degas in Black (and white...)

From May 31 to September 2, the French National Library (BnF) Richelieu in Paris presents an original approach to the work of Edgar Degas, through the painter's interest in black and white. Thanks to the gathering of one hundred and sixty pieces, from the rich collection of the BnF and from prestigious loans, the visitor follows the evolution of a passion which made him affirm: "if I had to redo my life, I would only accept black and white. »

Edgar Degas. Extrait de son carnet de dessins N°1. BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie
Edgar Degas. Extrait de son carnet de dessins N°1. BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie

The chronological and thematic journey of the exhibition reveals the experiments of Edgar Degas, from his apprenticeship in black and white to the years of devouring passion for prints.

Edgar Degas par lui-même. Eau forte. 1857.BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie
Edgar Degas par lui-même. Eau forte. 1857.BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie

His first attempts at etching date back to the 1850s, but it was twenty years later that the plates were born which are among the masterpieces of Impressionist printmaking: snapshots of modern life captured at the Opera or in the café-concerts, in the intimacy of bourgeois interiors or brothels. The taste for the unique proof led Degas to the monotype, which he considered to be a "printed design" and of which he became an unequaled master. Women at their toilet are the recurring subject of late lithographs.

Edgar Degas. Sortie du bain. Gravure. BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie
Edgar Degas. Sortie du bain. Gravure. BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie

Photographic experimentation, the last passion to which Edgar Degas devoted himself in 1895, enabled him to rediscover the "atmosphere of lamps" and the chiaroscuro approached in the print.

Alice des Clayes. Place Jacques Cartier. Montréal. Vers 1919. © Succession Alice des Clayes
Edgar Degas. Photographie double chez les Halevy.Album photographique de Ludovic Halévy. Volume III. Sucy et Paris. 1893-1896 – Edgar Degas, photographe. BnF, département des Estampes et de la photographie

Galerie Mansart - galerie Pigott

5 rue Vivienne,

75002 Paris


In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...




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