The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Though Edgar Degas (1834-1917) exhibited in seven of the eight Impressionist
shows held in Paris between 1874 and 1886, he saw himself as a Realist painter
rather than as an Impressionist. Unlike the Impressionists, he preferred to
work indoors, in his studio, rather than en plein air. Moreover,
he worked from memory rather than in front of the model, or from numerous
sketches previously made. He never abandoned the clear, firm line of his academic
years. Trained in the lineage of Ingres, to the end of his life, he considered
line important, whereas most of the other Impressionists abandoned line altogether
in favor of capturing the fleeting moments of light and color. Perhaps it
is factors such as these, plus Degas' own aristocratic background, that allowed
him to escape much of the invective heaped upon his colleagues by the critics
and public alike, in particular on Monet and Renoir. On the other hand, when
it came to his handling of light effects, Degas was a thorough Impressionist.
His quick, deft strokes maintained the "you-are-there" spontaneity and intimacy
of his paintings.
Southgate MT. The Convalescent. JAMA. 2004;291(5):527. doi:10.1001/jama.291.5.527