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Portrait of a Man (Portrait d'homme)

Edgar Degas

European Art

In this enigmatic painting, an unidentified man in modern bourgeois attire sits in a chair among cuts of meat. A platter bearing sausage and a bloody, freshly carved pig’s trotter rests on the cloth-covered table, and what appears to be a rib roast sits on another platter (or is it an artist’s palette?) on the floor. Midway between these two plates of dead animal flesh are the man’s clasped hands, which reinforce the melancholic mood of his partly shadowed face. Behind him hangs another cloth partially covering some indecipherable images (perhaps meat?) in a frame on the wall.

It has been suggested that the scene depicts a butcher’s shop, a restaurant, or, more likely, an artist in his studio—a theme that Edgar Degas explored in numerous works. A disquieting combination of portraiture and still life, the image thwarts easy explanation.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1866
    DIMENSIONS 34 x 25 1/2 in. (86.4 x 64.8 cm) Frame: 44 3/4 x 36 1/4 x 4 5/8 in. (113.7 x 91.4 x 12.1 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Stamped lower right: "Degas" (Lugt 658)
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
    PROVENANCE May 6-7, 1918, purchased from the artist’s estate at Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, France, no. 36 by Jacques Seligmann of Paris; between 1918 and 1921, provenance not yet documented; January 27, 1921, purchased at American Art Association, New York, NY, "The Notable Private Collection of Paintings & Pastels by the Great French Master Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas" no. 35 by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Edgar Degas (Paris, France, 1834–1917, Paris, France). Portrait of a Man (Portrait d'homme), ca. 1866. Oil on canvas, 34 x 25 1/2 in. (86.4 x 64.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 21.112 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 21.112_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 21.112_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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