sketch of an elderly man's face and shoulders in pencil with white highlighting; man has wavy hair, is wearing a short cap, and is looking pensively to PR; framed

Tête de Vieillard de face, c. 1860

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2018 Accession Highlight

Like other students of the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris, Edgar Degas would go to the Louvre to study and copy the masterpieces in the great museum. This drawing showcases Degas’s powers of concentration and his disciplined, meticulous work habits. It is a copy after a work by Florentine Renaissance master Lorenzo di Credi (1456–1536). The lessons Degas learned here would serve him well for decades to come. For instance, the fine outlines, diagonal hatching, and streaks of white highlighting on colored papers reappear frequently in his renowned studies of young ballet dancers. By rooting his skills so deeply in traditional techniques, Degas was later able to branch out to find new directions for his own art.

Mia has a good representative collection of works by Edgar Degas, but it includes none of Degas’s early studies of historical European art. This work admirably fills that gap. Led by the Department of Prints and Drawings, Mia has been slowly collecting objects related to artists’ education, and this is a prime example.

sketch of an elderly man's face and shoulders in pencil with white highlighting; man has wavy hair, is wearing a short cap, and is looking pensively to PR; framed