Portrait of Henry Lerolle with two of his daughters, Yvonne and Christine and a mirror

Edgar Degas1895 - 1896

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Paris, France

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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