Six Friends of the Artist , 1885
Large image: HERE
The pastel by Degas is impressive in its unusual composition as well as its size. Drawn from life, the men (and one boy) are scattered about informally, like band members on an album cover. Standing apart at the left is the full-length figure of — no, not Degas, but British artist Walter Sickert. Degas met him two years before when Sickert was an apprentice to James McNeil Whistler. He is facing away from the other five who are crowded at the right, and anchored by a dignified seated figure that echoes the standing man’s gaze. He is Albert Boulanger-Cavé, who briefly and reluctantly had served as censor of public spectacles for the ministry of fine art.
Facing him, as though in conversation, is a friend whom Dégas years earlier had painted chatting with against a ballet stage set, the realist artist Henri Gervex. Standing commandingly above him is Jacques-Émile Blanche, a writer, musician, and artist who had studied under Gervex, and in whose studio this assembly is being drawn. Behind him is Degas’s host in Dieppe, Ludovic Halévy, a successful writer of libretto with whom the artist shared a love of theater. Degas was thoughtful enough to have peeking out below him Halévy’s son Daniel, then nearly 13, who much enjoyed the attention of the artist and who would, in his 80s, write a biography of him (Degas parle, 1960)… Contributions by these men help fill out a snapshot of the time… via: providencephoenix.com - Bill Rodriguez, Illuminating from within, The RISD Museum’s ‘Edgar Degas: Six Friends at Dieppe’