Cover image for The Letters of Edgar Degas Edited by Theodore Reff

The Letters of Edgar Degas

Edited by Theodore Reff

COMING IN JUNE

1464 pages
7" × 10"
55 color illustrations
2020

The Letters of Edgar Degas

Edited by Theodore Reff

“[Degas’s] correspondence shows a different side of him. . . . Such a devoted and passionate letter writer could hardly have been the misanthropic grump that his popular image often suggests.”

 

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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.

“[Degas’s] correspondence shows a different side of him. . . . Such a devoted and passionate letter writer could hardly have been the misanthropic grump that his popular image often suggests.”

Theodore Reff is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Columbia University. His publications include Degas et son oeuvre: A Supplement, coauthored with Philippe Brame, Degas: The Artist’s Mind, and The Notebooks of Edgar Degas: A Catalogue of the Thirty-Eight Notebooks in the Bibliothéque Nationale and Other Collections.