Aux Ambassadeurs de Degas

Aux Ambassadeurs de Degas
Aux Ambassadeurs de Degas

Among the different themes in which the work ofEdgar Degas was immersedalso includes the portrait of the nightlife ofParis, to which he dedicated various works. Among them, this small painting (37 x 27 cm) painted between 1876 and 1877 with the pastel technique on paper with a monotype. A delicate and exquisite work that is safeguarded in the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon.


Aux Ambassadeurs de Degas

The play is set in one of the most mythical singing cafes of the Parisian nightlife at that time: Ambassadeurs, a place that inspired other artists or people likeHenri Toulouse Lautrec even made some of his advertising posters like this.

The painting byDegasis a good example of the absolute freedom with which he came to paint. If in many of his works related to ballet, he looks for the dynamism and fluidity of the characters over space. Not here. It is a tremendously original composition, with an oblique view of the stage from a box. A fabulous excuse to investigate colors, lights and their relationships.

We see the public and the musicians of the orchestra, below in the foreground, in the shadows and painted with lively strokes. By the way, the name of Toulouse Lautrec appears again, since the prominence of that double bass neck can be related to its famous poster of Jane Avril.

And over it the singer in the center. Painted in strong red, a tone that also "sings" against the light background of the curtain, the blue of the figure on the right and the dresses of other artists further away. That is, the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow are on stage.

Degas scholars have seen that for this work I use a special technique. The first thing he did was sketch the monotype drawing and then he enhanced everything with pastels, achieving an incredible contrast. He did that monotype by applying inks to draw on a metal plate. Something that he then stamped in a single copy on a damp sheet. Which, once stamped and dried, was painted, this time with pastel paints.

That is to say that in some way everything in this small role is experimentation, both technical and creative, a work of supreme quality, especially due to the resounding protagonism of that woman dressed in bright red and dominating all the backlight with a huge vigor and poise. A type of representation different from the light figures of the dancers, but which shows us the unquestionable mastery of Degas, a impressionist painter much more versatile than is sometimes thought.

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