Six Friends at Dieppe
Edgar Degas, French, Six Friends at Dieppe, 1885, Pastel on wove paper laid down on canvas; 114.9 x 71.1 cm (45 5/16 x 28 inches), Museum Appropriation Fund 31.320
This large group portrait represents six friends at Dieppe on the Normandy coast. From front to back they are the sophisticated Parisian Albert Boulanger-Cavé, painters Henri Gervex and Jacques-Émile Blanche, writers Daniel Halévy and his father Ludovic, and the English painter Walter Sickert. The drawing evokes the performance of a tableau, for which Degas handpicked the cast from two vacationing families and their guests. Adopting a narrow, elevated viewpoint, Degas drastically foreshortened the composition and placed the figures in an ambiguous space, which allows them to be perceived at once from several angles. The complementary blue-and-orange color scheme and dense pastel marks create a lively surface and light suggestive of the late summer sun.