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Circus: Spectacle
Each Spring, travelling circuses around the world break out of their winter quarters and migrate to cities to bring entertainment to their masses. Much-changed now from their form in their heyday in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they were among the earliest forms of mass entertainment, long before... Read more
Into the Light: Jean-Louis Forain, nightlife and highlife
You will know Degas, of course, and probably Toulouse-Lautrec. But in the rewriting of the history of Impressionism, you almost certainly didn’t hear about Jean-Louis Forain (1852–1931), or see those works of his which are owned by a large number of major galleries and museums around the world, but... Read more
Into the Light: Jean-Louis Forain, courts and studios
The first of these two articles traced the life and works of Jean-Louis Forain up to 1900. Largely influenced by Degas, with his interests in dancers, horse racing, and women washing themselves, for instance, his paintings had been distinctive, some controversial, but had hardly broken new ground. Jean-Louis Forain... Read more
Danseuses: 2 The social message
In the previous article, I looked at a selection of paintings showing the ballet and its dancers during the lifetime of Degas, to help put his many paintings and drawings into context. The works shown concentrated on the more innocent aspects of ballet at that time, although some strayed... Read more
Degas’ Circle: After Impressionism
Degas was, of course, one of the core members of the Impressionist inner circle, although he is now seen as remaining the odd man out. In addition to meeting and debating with the other Impressionists in various cafés and bars in Paris, Degas had special relationships with Camille Pissarro... Read more
Edgar Degas: Dancers 2, Lessons and rehearsal
Soon after 1870, when Edgar Degas started to paint individual dancers in the ballet of the Paris Opera, he made more complex compositions involving multiple dancers performing different activities. These works often appear to be straightforward paintings of lessons and rehearsals, but in many cases were carefully composed from... Read more
The Art of the Law: paintings of courts 2, Forain and court artists
In the first article in this series, I showed how, during the nineteenth century, paintings of courts of law came to depict those of the day, and to tell stories of contemporary cases. The early years of the twentieth century brought the most prolific painter of courtroom scenes, and... Read more