This life-size study of a model’s head and shoulders evokes a tradition of heroic and divine imagery stretching back to antiquity. The far-off gaze would conventionally suggest philosophical reflection or moral aspiration, while the heavy red cloak billows out like the costume of a saint in seventeenth-century religious art.
Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917) was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist. He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.