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The Star

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917

Made in France, Europe

c. 1876-1878

Pastel over ink monotype on laid paper

Sheet: 17 3/8 × 13 1/2 inches (44.1 × 34.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Charlotte Dorrance Wright, 1978

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While many late-nineteenth-century painters produced both prints and pastels, Degas was unique in combining these two mediums in his monotypes. He created these images by putting ink on a copper plate without scratching the surface, and then transferring the picture to paper by using the pressure of a printing press. Usually there was only enough ink to create one impression. As a final step, Degas frequently added pastel to the printed image.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Cultivated, witty, irascible, and obsessed with perfecting his art, Edgar Degas was arguably--along with Paul Cézanne--the greatest French artist of his generation. He worked in Paris most of his life, and his favorite subjects were drawn from that city's high life and demimonde alike: racecourses, ballet, opera, café concerts, brothels, and nudes at their baths. Degas's technical inventiveness was endless, as he worked in a wide range of mediums that he frequently combined in deft and experimental ways. In The Star, one of the earliest of Degas's over three hundred monotypes and another of his theatrical subjects, the base image was created on a metal plate with printer's ink worked with brushes, rags, and perhaps the artist's fingers; the plate was then run through a printing press to offset the image onto a dampened sheet of paper. Degas worked up the resultant impression with layers of pastel, altering the monochromatic inky image through the addition of rich veils and accents of brilliant chalky color. Ann Percy, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 231.

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