Edgar Degas
Henry Lerolle with his daughters

Portrait of Henry Lerolle with two of his daughters, Yvonne and Christine with a mirror
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Portrait of Henry Lerolle with two of his daughters, Yvonne and Christine with a mirror
1895-1896
Albumen print from a gelatine silver-bromide glass negative, enlargement by Tasset
H. 28.5; W. 37.5 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Portrait au miroir d'Henry Lerolle et ses deux filles, Yvonne et Christine [Portrait of Henry Lerolle with two of his daughters, Yvonne and Christine and a mirror]


The modernity of Degas's painted and sculpted work can also be found in his photographs as, from 1895 onwards, he started practising this technique for a brief but intense period. Friends of his, undergoing his gruelling posing sessions, remarked on the stage director-like manner with which he paid meticulous and tyrannical attention to every detail.

This photograph taken at the Lerolles family home, is far from being a mere family portrait. The characters resemble somnambulists and the full-length mirror accentuates an unreal sense of space. Perhaps Degas playfully plunges the onlooker into the world of symbolism, a world in which most of the artists attending the early 1890s salons of the painter Henry Lerolle - such as Mallarmé, Debussy and Maurice Denis - belonged.


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