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Art & Design

  • Edgar Degas: Six Friends at Dieppe

    Painting and Sculpture

    September 16, 2005 – January 15, 2006

  • Edgar Degas: Six Friends at Dieppe

    Notes: Generous support for Edgar Degas: Six Friends at Dieppe has been provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal Agency The Providence Tourism Council Rhode Island Monthly Magazine | ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PUBLICATIONS (Curatorial Reference Collections)OBJECT 1: The Halévy Family and Their Friends at Dieppe, 1885 (printed ca. 1900) Gelatin silver print Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund2005LABEL COPY 1: Degas exploited his interest in photography during the summer of 1885 by directing photographs taken by the British photographer, Barnes. In his humorous take on a painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres that hung in the Louvre, Degas cast himself as the blind Homer, attended by three “muses” - the Lemoinne sisters - and two “choir boys” - Élie and Daniel Halévy. The Apotheosis was staged on the steps of Jacques-Émile Blanche’s studio, as was a marvelous group photograph taken the same day.In this animated view of the Halévy and Blanche households Degas, Sickert, Blanche, Cavé and Louise Halévy are playfully engaged in the creation of their poses. Less amused are the three older women dressed in mourning. In fact, Mme Léon Halévy and her daughter Valentine had a strained relationship with their neighbor, Madame Émile Blanche, all seated on the bottom step. Unlike The Apotheosis of Degas, which is an albumen print, this gelatin silver print appears to have been made around 1900, presumably from one of Barnes’s original glass plate negatives.Section: Daniel HalévyOBJECT 2: Daniel HalévyFrench, 1872-1962 Letter to John Maxon, Director, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, February 4, 1953LABEL COPY 2: John Maxon became Director of The RISD Museum on October 1, 1952. His attention was drawn to Degas’s Six Friends at Dieppe soon after his arrival, as within months he had a sent a photograph of it to Daniel Halévy, who was then eighty years old. Daniel replied with a charming and informative letter that described his recollection of the portrait and of the holiday in Dieppe. In response to Maxon, he wrote: “These are happy memories and the task of writing about them is equally pleasant. It was in Dieppe that this picture was painted…at the entrance of the beautiful “Châlet” which was the summer residence of Jacques-Émile Blanche.My father, Ludovic Halévy, had rented a cottage near that of the Blanches…with whom we were close friends. Staying with us was our friend Albert Cavé….Degas was staying with us in our home, as well. Behind Cavé, the painter Gervex, who was the guest of the Blanche family…. Behind Gervex…Blanche; behind him, my father; finally, myself, the last little one.As for the young Sickert, standing, alone, it didn’t bother Degas to plant him there, according to his fancy.” The full text of the letter and an English translation are published in the exhibition catalogue, available on the study table in the gallery. Section: Daniel HalévyOBJECT 3: Daniel Halévy French, 1872-1962 Degas parle Paris-Génève, La Palatine, 1960 Private CollectionsLABEL COPY 3: Daniel Halévy’s final book, a memoir about Degas based on notes he began keeping as a teenager, was published when Daniel was eighty-eight years old. In it he recalled their vacation in Dieppe and the joy its memory brought him.Section: Daniel HalévyOBJECT 4: Carmen An opera in four acts. Music by George Bizet. Book by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy (After Prosper Merimée’s Romance). Chicago Opera Company Libretto. New York, Fred Rullman, Inc. Private CollectionSection: Six Friends at DieppeOBJECT 5: Ludovic HalévyFrench, 1834-1908 Madame et Monsieur Cardinal Illustrations by Edmond Morin Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1877Section: Ludovic Halévy OBJECT 6: Ludovic HalévyFrench, 1834-1908 Les Petites Cardinal Illustrations by Henry MaigrotParis, Calmann-Lévy, 1914Section: Ludovic Halévy OBJECT 7: Ludovic HalévyFrench, 1834-1908 La Famille Cardinal Illustrations by Albert Guillaume Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1914Section: Ludovic Halévy OBJECT 8: Ludovic HalévyFrench, 1834-1908 The Cardinal Family Translated by George B. Ives; illustrations by Charles Léandre, etchings by Louis Muller London and Paris: Walpole Press, 1901 Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of DesignLABEL COPY 8: Ludovic Halévy’s stories about two ballerinas and their ambitious parents were written between 1870 and 1880 and first appeared in the periodical La Vie parisienne. They introduced readers to the fictional Monsieur and Madame Cardinal and to their efforts to secure a comfortable future for their daughters, Pauline and Virginie. Volumes of the collected stories sold widely and were illustrated by a number of artists over the course of their long time in print. So popular were the stories that they also appeared in an American translation, The Cardinal Family. Halévy seemed to prefer illustrations that followed his narrative and appealed to the general reader. When Degas offered Halévy a suite of monotypes to illustrate a new edition in 1877, Halévy declined. The refusal did not seem to alter their relationship: Degas firmly believed that his friend Halévy had perfect judgment about everything “except art.”Section: Ludovic Halévy OBJECT 9: Marie-Élisabeth Blavot Boulanger CavéFrench, ca. 1810-ca. 1885 La Femme aujourd’hui,La Femme autrefoisPortrait of Mme Cavé by J. A. D. Ingres, engraved by Mlle LeGrand Henri Plon Imprimeur-Éditeur, Paris, 1863 Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of DesignColor, approved by M. Eugène Delacroix, for teaching painting in oils and water-colors Section: Albert Boulanger-Cavé OBJECT 10: The Century Magazine Vol. xxxix, December 1889 Department of Painting and Sculpture Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of DesignLABEL COPY 10: The widely circulated American periodical, The Century Magazine, included two articles on the Panorama of the Century, a vast mural painted by Henri Gervex and Alfred Stevens for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. The American writer Theodore Stanton’s overview, “The Paris Panorama of the Nineteenth Century,” was followed by a narrative of the project that was written by the artists and illustrated by sketches of the panorama.Section: Henri GervexOBJECT 11: Alfred Stevens Belgian, 1823-1906 A Portrait of Parisian Celebrities, featuring Ludovic Halévy at center, 1889 Reproduction of a segment of the Panorama of the Century, 1789-1889 From the collection of the John and Mable Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FloridaLABEL COPY 11: The Panorama of the Century, 1789-1889, which he painted in partnership with Alfred Stevens, was by far the most ambitious work of Henri Gervex’s career. He conceived his scheme to paint the most prominent people of the past hundred years around 1885, with the intention of completing it in time for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. The plan required significant financial backing, as it included the construction of a vast rotunda to be built on the grounds of the Tuileries Gardens. The standard size of great theatrical panoramas, which were intended to travel to other cities, was roughly 65 feet high by 394 feet wide. Sixty-five shareholders raised 325,000 francs toward the project, with the understanding that they would benefit from ticket sales. More than 640 distinguished people were portrayed: Ludovic Halévy merited inclusion; Degas did not. When the great panorama was dismantled, its sponsors received portions of the painting. Original segments can still be viewed at the Musée Carnavalet and the Musée du Petit-Palais, Paris, and at the John and Mable Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida.Section: Henri GervexOBEJCT 12: Jacques-Émile Blanche French, 1861-1942 Aymeris Illustrations by the Author Paris, Éditions de la Sirène, 1922 Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of DesignSection: Jacques-Émile BlancheOBEJCT 13: Dieppe Frontispiece: lithograph by the author Series: Portrait de la France:Dieppe, par J.-E. Blanche Paris, Éditions Émile-Paul Frères, 1927 Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of DesignLABEL COPY 12/13: Aymeris and Dieppe may both be considered autobiographies of Blanche, although the first was written as a novel and the second as a guidebook.George Aymeris is the protagonist in Blanche’s lavishly illustrated story. His description of his older brother’s death, his childhood at the family’s psychiatric clinic in Paris, and his joyful independence in England where he was sent to escape the dangers of the Franco-Prussian War, reveal many of the details of Blanche’s life, including his aspirations to become a painter and his feelings of worthlessness.Dieppe, more than a guidebook, describes Blanche’s emotional attachment to this town on the Normandy coast. At night, a walk through its streets brought forth the phantoms of its many visitors: Delacroix, Dumas, Whistler, Degas, Renoir, Liszt, Debussy, and Gounod. By day it welcomed the present, as indicated by Blanche’s illustration of an automobile in the square in front of the Café des Tribunaux. In this recollection, as in several other memoirs, Blanche lingers over a description of the summer in which Degas created Six Friends at Dieppe. Section: Jacques-Émile Blanche Loaned Object Information: See Party Tab for specific object and lender information. Exhibition Type: in-house

  • In the late summer of 1885 Edgar Degas (1834-1917) traveled north from Paris to join his friends for a seaside holiday. His destination was Dieppe, a picturesque town on the Normandy coast. While relaxing with the family of writer Ludovic Halévy, he created a large pastel drawing of six male figures. They included Halévy and his young son Daniel; the painters Henri Gervex, Jacques-Émile Blanche, and Walter Sickert; and “a man of taste,” Albert Boulanger-Cavé. This exhibition reveals the story of Six Friends at Dieppe, a remarkable group portrait that represents a unique performance of art and friendship. The fishing port of Dieppe on the Normandy coast of France became a popular vacation spot in the early years of the nineteenth century. Within easy access from Paris by train, it could also be reached by the steamers that crossed the English Channel. Dieppe’s transformation into a chic watering place began in the 1820s under the patronage of Caroline, Duchesse de Berry, who encouraged the construction of fashionable bathing huts and a public spa. By mid-century the first of Dieppe’s casinos buzzed with activity and the wide stretch of land to the west of the port gave way to an avenue of grand hotels and a broad promenade. The beachfront was further enhanced when Dieppe was discovered by the court of Emperor Louis-Napoléon III, which prompted Empress Eugénie to design grassy lawns for leisurely strolls and sporting activities. By 1885, the third version of the casino, a Moorish fantasy, was already under construction, and the town’s summer colony boasted a fascinating mix of artists, writers, and international society.

Selected objects from Edgar Degas: Six Friends at Dieppe