Musée d'Orsay: Edgar Degas Burgundy Landscape

Edgar Degas
Burgundy Landscape

Burgundy Landscape
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Burgundy Landscape
Coloured monotype on cream paper
H. 30; W. 40 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Paysage de Bourgogne [Burgundy Landscape]

In early autumn 1890, Degas and the sculptor Bartholomé took a trip together out of Paris and into the heart of Burgundy. When he arrived at Diénay, to stay with his friend, the engraver Georges Jeanniot, he used Jeanniot's studio to produce his first, colour monotypes. This process uses an etching plate to produce a unique impression by transfer. So, Degas transferred the landscapes he had seen, on to the plate.
"Bartholomé, Jeanniot noted, was stunned to see him create these landscapes as if he still had them before him […] one gradually saw emerging on the surface of the metal, a valley, a sky, […] ruts filled with water from the recent downpour, orange-coloured clouds scudding across a stormy sky, above the red and green earth". Here, the uneven contours of a hill, in purplish blue tones, stand out against a sky streaked with hatching -the earth churned up with vigorous brushwork.

In conversations with Ludovic Halévy, Degas explained the inspiration for his "imaginary landscapes": "I stood at the carriage door, and looked out vaguely. That gave me the idea to do some landscapes". But when Halévy suggested that this was a question of "states of mind", Degas responded dryly, taking exception to "such pretentious language", that this was only "a state of eyes". The innovative technique, the strangeness of this view, set in neither time nor place, distinguishes Degas from other landscape artists of his time. In 1891, he had warned: "People see what they want to see; it is false; and this falseness constitutes art".

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