Like Manet, Degas came from a fairly affluent family and was exposed to classical music, theater and ballet. His father, a banker, Auguste de Gas, was an amateur musician and lover of music and his mother, who died when Edgar was only 13, was an amateur opera singer. A famous Spanish musician and performer, Lorenzo Pagans, would often play private musical soirées at the homes of wealthy Parisiennes. The de Gas home was one, the Maison Manet another. The exposure (and education) to classical music, opera and ballet, would have a profound impact on his work. It's known that Degas was a regular to the rue Le Peletier opera before it burned in 1873. This was the original opera that Garnier would replace. In later life, before Auguste's passing, Degas painted his elderly father listening intently to Pagans playing (see below).
|"Degas' Father Listening to Lorenzo Pagans Playing the Guitar", c 1869-72, MFA, Boston|
|"Lorenzo Pagans et Auguste de Gas", c1871-72, Musée d'Orsay, Paris|
|"L'Attente", c 1880-82, Getty Museum- Norton Simon Museum, Los Angeles- Pasadena, CA|
|"Portrait of Mary Cassatt", c 1879-1884, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.|
When I traveled to Paris several weeks ago, I wanted to retrace some of his steps and look at some of his work intimately. His earlier work (and influences) in particular are of interest to me because they display his tenacity with his research and development of ideas, and the broad technical exploration, he utilized. I am eager to share some these observations over several posts.