Edgar Degas

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Edgar Degas
Mademoiselle Bécat at the Café des Ambassadeurs
Pastel over lithograph on paper mounted on paperboard.
13 7/8 x 10 7/8 inches (350 x 275 mm)
Thaw Collection.
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This richly illuminated scene of a nocturnal performance by the famed chanteuse Emélie Bécat at the Café des Ambassadeurs captures the spectacle and excitement of outdoor café-concerts in fin-de-siècleParis. Degas assiduously attended this popular and coarse entertainment for a brief period in the late 1870s and used it as an inspiration for compositions, including this lithograph made in 1877 and reworked in pastel nearly a decade later. The three silhouetted female spectators in the immediate foreground—added entirely in pastel to the underlying print—contrast with the spotlighted singer, who is performing her frenzied, comic dance, with arms raised and fingers splayed, in her trademark style épileptique.

Signed and dated in pastel at lower right, "Degas / 85".
Clauzet, Paris; Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sickert (by May 1891); Mrs. Fisher Unwin (Sickert's sister-in-law; by 1898); Mrs. Cobden Sickert (by 1908); M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York; Mrs. Ralph King, Cleveland (by 1947); Mr. and Mrs. Robert K. Schafer, Mentor, Ohio (until 1982); David Tunick, Inc., New York; Mr. Eugene V. Thaw, New York; Eugene Victor Thaw Art Foundation.

Watermark: none.

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