Drawn to Paint

Il ContentoIl Contento Il ContentoIl Contento Study for the Painting 'Erminia Finding the Wounded Tancred'Study for the Painting 'Erminia Finding the Wounded Tancred' Erminia Finding the Wounded TancredErminia Finding the Wounded Tancred A Lady's Left Hand Holding a Rose. Study for the Painting 'The Artist's Wife: Margaret Lindsay of Evelick'A Lady's Left Hand Holding a Rose. Study for the Painting 'The Artist's Wife: Margaret Lindsay of Evelick' The Artist's Wife: Margaret Lindsay of Evelick, c 1726 - 1782The Artist's Wife: Margaret Lindsay of Evelick, c 1726 - 1782 A Lady Descending from a Sedan Chair. Study for the Painting 'The Porteous Mob'A Lady Descending from a Sedan Chair. Study for the Painting 'The Porteous Mob' The Porteous Mob (detail)The Porteous Mob (detail) Study for the Portrait of Diego MartelliStudy for the Portrait of Diego Martelli Diego Martelli (1839 - 1896)Diego Martelli (1839 - 1896)

Edgar Degas

Study for the Portrait of Diego Martelli
1879
This small sketch was made in the spring of 1879 in Martelli's Paris study, as he was preparing to return to Italy. Degas and Martelli were close friends, and this drawing has an informality and emotional honesty that suggests familiarity between the artist and sitter. The exaggerated cropping of the scene to focus on the figure suggests that Degas was positioned close by as he sketched his friend. Martelli was noted for his energy and animated personality, but this was not what Degas chose to show. Instead, he focused on the inner state of Martelli, whose crossed arms and vacant downcast stare indicate that he is lost in thought. Degas's ability to capture the physical appearance and emotional mood of the figure in just a few spontaneous strokes is a testimony to his skill.
  • Credits Messrs T. Agnew & Sons Gift 1935
  • Medium Pencil on paper
  • Size 11.20 x 16.90 cm (framed: 59.00 x 43.80 x 2.10 cm)

Did you know?

This sketch is only a fraction of the size of the finished painting. The exaggerated cropping is reminiscent of a close-up photograph, but it would be a further fifteen years before Degas got his first camera and began taking photographic portraits.