Edgar Degas: a new page written
The objective of this internet site is to partially present and visualize the forthcoming digital critical catalogue of the work of Edgar Degas, currently under preparation. The catalogue exposes the huge gap between the catalogue of Paul-André Lemoisne of 1946 and the knowledge that we have of Degas today. The respected publications of my eminent predecessors, Lemoisne and Théodore Reff, have significantly facilitated my work. Due to numerous exhibitions, auctions and acquisitions by museums, the “world” of Degas has completely changed : after all, it is seventy years since the Lemoisne’s first catalogue. This new catalogue will reconsider Degas’s body of work in its current context.
A digital publication: a contemporary solution
Taking into account the evolution of new editorial practices, we have decided to publish a digital critical catalogue even though paper publication maintains its prestige. In addition to the economical and practical aspects of the digital version, it is now infinitely possible to correct and to constantly update this work.
To underscore the necessity for this new work on Degas, one needs only to compare the number of works identified in the earlier catalogues and those known to day. Adding the number of works indicated in Lemoisne’s catalogue of 1946 to that of Theodore Reff’s supplement of 1984 gives a total of 1600 referenced works, including approximately 500 paintings and 1100 pastels, with more than 170 found in public collections. For our part, we have already identified nearly 2000 works, including 800 paintings and 1000 pastels. Among them, about 800 are now in public collections—five times the number of identified works in 1946 and 1984! Much more information will be provided in the forthcoming critical catalogue, and multiple cross-referencing will allow for a better understanding of the evolution of Degas’s work.
Generally speaking, we will not reopen the debate about Lemoisne’s dating, however we will indicate other dates that have been proposed by certain specialists.
One final comparative element should be emphasized here. We have referenced 2280 exhibitions from 1870 to date, whether fully or partially devoted to Degas. Such a precise listing, indicating places, dates and titles, has never been undertaken. It therefore marks a significant step in our knowledge of Degas’s work and its history.
The works under consideration
Our critical catalogue will be devoted to paintings and pastels, among which we will be identifying pastels and charcoals as well as pastels on monotypes. We are setting aside drawings, watercolors, monotypes and sculptures. Each illustrated work will be accompanied by data concerning its history, its exhibitions and its bibliography. We will endeavour to research the provenance of works between 1933 and 1945 as accurately as possible. We are confident that this work will make it possible to advance our knowledge of an artist who profoundly marked the history of French painting and to discover new works.
We present here, as examples, around sixty works listed in chronological order. It will be possible in the forthcoming catalogue to access by theme and/or by technique.
Each data file includes a technical description (title, date, medium, dimensions and localisation along with “exhibitions” and “bibliography” sections. References are presented here in a shortened form. For example, the exhibition in Paris at the musée d’Orsay from November 28, 2017 to February 25, 2018 entitled Degas Danse. Dessin. Hommage à Degas avec Paul Valéry is presented as: Paris, musée d’Orsay, 2017-2018, followed by the number of the exhibited work.
There is every reason to think that, in due course, corrections, modifications and updates will be necessary. Please let us have comments, suggestions and corrections. We will take them into account once we have checked the information. We have decided to publish all photographs even of medium quality, especially if they are the only known or available images of the works and this for obvious scholarship reasons. Our ultimate aim is to replace these with better ones as we go along. Indeed, this is the real advantage of an online catalogue.
Please note that the ownership information will be kept in strict confidence and wishes for anonymity will fully be respected.