Edgar Degas: a new Digital Critical Catalogue by Michel Schulman

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« Our critical catalogue will be devoted to paintings and pastels, among which we will be identifying pastels and charcoals as well as pastels on monotype. »

Michel Schulman

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Why create a new critical catalogue ?

 

The objective of this internet site is to partially present and visualize the forthcoming digital critical catalogue of the work of Edgar Degas, currently under preparation. The catalogue undertaken exposes the huge gap between the catalogues of Paul-André Lemoisne of 1946 and Theodore Reff of 1984 and the knowledge that we have of Degas today. The eminent publications of my predecessors form the basis and the point of departure of my research. Due to numerous exhibitions, auctions and acquisitions by museums, the “world” of Degas has changed. Seventy years have passed since the publication of Lemoisne’s catalogue and more than thirty since the publication of Theodore Reff’s! It is therefore necessary to reconsider Degas’s body of work in its current context.

 

A digital publication: a contemporary solution.

 

Taking into account the evolution of new editorial practices, we have decided to publish a digital critical catalogue even though paper publication maintains its prestige. In addition to the economical and practical aspects of the digital version, it is now infinitely possible to correct and to constantly update this work.

To underscore the necessity for this new work on Degas, one needs only to compare the number of works identified in the earlier catalogues and those known to day. Adding the number of works indicated in Lemoisne’s catalogue of 1946 to that of Theodore Reff’s supplement of 1984 gives a total of 1600 referenced works, including approximately 500 paintings and 1100 pastels, with more than 170 found in public collections. For our part, we have already identified nearly 2100 works, including 800 paintings and 1300 pastels. Among them, about 800 are now in public collections—five times the number of identified works in 1946 and 1984 ! Much more information will be provided in the forthcoming critical catalogue, and multiple cross-referencing will allow for a better understanding of the evolution of Degas’s work.

Generally speaking, we will not reopen the debate about Lemoisne’s dating, however we will indicate other dates that have been proposed by certain specialists.

One final comparative element should be emphasized here. We have referenced 2280 exhibitions from 1870 to date, whether fully or partially devoted to Degas. Such a precise listing, indicating places, dates and titles, has never been undertaken. It therefore marks a significant step in our knowledge of Degas’s work and its history.

 

The works under consideration

 

Our critical catalogue will be devoted to paintings and pastels, among which we will be identifying pastels and charcoals as well as pastels on monotype. We’re setting aside drawings, watercolors, monotypes and sculptures. Each illustrated work will be accompanied by data concerning its history, its exhibitions and its bibliography.

We are confident that this work will make it possible to advance our knowledge of an artist who profoundly marked the history of French painting and to discover new works.

 

Methodology

 

We present below, as examples, around forty works listed in chronological order. It will be possible in the forthcoming catalogue to access by theme and/or by technique.

Each data file includes a technical description (title, date, medium, dimensions and localisation along with “exhibitions” and “bibliography” sections. References are presented here in a shortened form. For example, the exhibition in Paris at the musée d’Orsay from November 28, 2017 to February 25, 2018 entitled Degas Danse Dessin. Hommage à Degas avec Paul Valéry is presented as: Paris, musée d’Orsay, 2017-2018, followed by the number of the exhibited work. The complete version of the listings of exhibitions and of the bibliography will appear in the catalogue, scheduled to be available online at the end of 2019.

There’s every reason to believe that modifications, corrections and updates will be necessary. Thus, the interest of choosing digital publication. Don’t hesitate to send us your remarks, suggestions and recommended changes so that we may take them into account upon verification. With thanks.

 

Michel Schulman

Pluton-Magazine/2018

Contact: michel.schulman@gmail.com

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