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Figures studies, c.1861

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas 1834 - 1917

Graphite on paper 200 x 264 mm

Bequeathed by A.S.F. Gow, through the National Art Collections Fund, 1978

Collections record: PD.29-1978

© The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

In his early career, Degas followed traditional academic practice by making preliminary studies of compositional arrangement and individual pictorial elements in preparation for a finished painting.

This drawing does not relate directly to any of the large-scale figure compositions that Degas painted as a young man in the 1850s and early 1860s, although it may be that it represents a preliminary idea which was abandoned as the composition evolved. Similar youthful figures occur in a number of his paintings of around this date, often in pairs or groupings where one figure all but obscures an adjacent companion.

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