This portrait of Degas' brother was painted in New Orleans where Degas visited him in 1872-1873. Achille, a cotton broker, is again represented in The Cotton Market, New Orleans,
painted by Degas in 1873. Our portrait may have been a study for the larger painting although in that, the figure has been reversed and the pose slightly modified.This exquisite painting reveals the deft hand of the master in its strong sure strokes, delicate washes and muted colors. The choice of parchment as a base has permitted marvelous depth and translucency. With his descriptive draftsmanship, Degas achieved a clear penetration of his brother's inner mood and character, that of a prosperous French aristocrat untouched by his American surroundings.Degas professed to have had problems with his family as sitters because the work "must be done to the family taste," executed "under impossible conditions of light, always disturbed, and with models who, though most affectionate, show little consideration and take you all the less seriously because you are their nephew or cousin."1Endnotes
Referenced Work of Art
- John Rewald, "Degas and His Family in New Orleans," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, series 6, Vol. XXX, 1946, p. 116.
- Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917. Achille de Gas 1872-1873. Oil on parchment on canvas, 14 1/2" x 9 1/4". Unsigned. Accession 61.36.8.CollectionsRené de Gas, Paris; Chester Dale, New York; Jacques Seligmann and Company, New York; P. D. McMillan, Minneapolis, 11 February, 1949, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 15 November, 1961.ExhibitedNew York, Museum of French Art, 1929.
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Degas, 1931.
Cleveland Museum of Art, Degas, 5 February-9 March, 1947.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Degas Portraits of His Family and Friends, 6-28 March, 1948.ReferencesPaul Jamot, Degas, Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, 1931.
P. A. Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre, Paris, P. Brame et C. M. de Hauke, 1949, no. 37.