Edgar Degas

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Edgar Degas
1834-1917
Self-Portrait in a Brown Vest
ca. 1856
Oil on paper, mounted on canvas.
9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (240 x 190 mm)
Bequest of John S. Thacher.
1985.46

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Inscription: 

Watermark: none visible through lining.
Inscribed on a piece of paper attached to the back of frame in pen and brown ink, "Portrait de Degas par lui-même / Appartenant à Melle Fevre / 9bis Avenue des Fleurs / Nice Alpes lles France".

Provenance: 
The artist's atelier (Lugt 658); Mlle J. Fèvre, Nice; Paul Cassirer, Amsterdam; Paulette Godard Remarque; her sale, New York, Sotheby's, 7 November 1979, lot 512, repr.; E. V. Thaw & Co., Inc., New York; John S. Thacher, Washington, D.C.
Bibliography: 

Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 333-334.
Denison, Cara D. French Master Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1993, no. 116, repr.

Notes: 

This small-scale, somewhat tentative exploration in oils reveals Degas' continued use of himself as subject as he came to grasp the rudiments of portraiture. Here he posed with the right half of his body lost in shadow and with a cautious and reserved gaze--as opposed to contemporaneous portraits that depict a more assertive and arrogant young man. This foray into sketching with oil paint was likely executed shortly before the artist left for Italy. Such familiar subject matter is typical not only of Degas' early years but of his entire career: he very rarely accepted commissions and often found subjects within his social milieu, hired models, or working-class entertainers. --Exhibition Label, from “Degas: Drawings and Sketchbooks”

Associated names: 

Fèvre, J., Mlle, former owner.
Cassirer, Paul, former owner.
Remarque, Paulette Godard, former owner.
Thacher, John S., former owner.

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