About this artwork

Degas painted two portraits of his good friend Diego Martelli in the spring of 1879. The paintings, although very similar, show Degas experimenting with different formats. Seven preliminary studies exist for these paintings, but some seem to relate more to one of the paintings than the other. This study is the smallest and sketchiest of all the preliminary drawings, and was probably Degas’s ‘première pensée’ (first thought) for both the portraits. He sketched the bulky figure of Martelli, using strong pencil lines to outline his frame. The table and the picture in the background are indicated by a few lines, but none of Martelli’s belongings that appear in the finished paintings are present. This immediate study was intended to capture the pose and attitude of the sitter.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Study for the Portrait of Diego Martelli
  • date created:
    About 1879
  • materials:
    Pencil on paper
  • measurements:
    11.20 x 16.90 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Messrs T. Agnew & Sons Gift 1935
  • accession number:
    D 3873
  • gallery:
    View by Appointment
  • subject:
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Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas