Edgar Degas Paintings

At The Cafe des Ambassadeurs

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Degas endlessly portrayed artwork that illustrated ballerinas, performers, and dancers taking the stage and behind the curtains. A similar inspiration is behind the pastel piece At The Cafe Des Ambassadeurs, as the artist illustrates the night life of Paris. The artist enjoyed showcasing what would occurs at cafe, bars, and parties.

Edgar Degas often enjoyed creating artwork that illustrated the classic Parisian culture during the 19th century. The artist adored capturing a beautiful scene and recreating it on canvas. These stunning moments of Parisian life would continue to go into history as some of the most iconic impressionistic paintings of all time. He once stated “It’s much better to draw what you can’t see anymore but is in your memory, you only reproduce what struck you, that is to say the necessary”. The quote explains to the viewer that Degas indeed preferred to create moments from his memory, rather than imagining a situation. This has inspired the events that take place within the pastel piece. See also the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, such as At the Moulin Rouge, Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant and Moulin Rouge: La Goulue.

The drawing showcases a woman onstage performing. She is dressed in a white gown that falls down her hips and towards her knees. The white gown is decorated with a large white bow on her chest with a cut that exposes her breasts. The sleeves of the dress ruffle outwards towards her hands that she holds openly towards the ceiling. The ruffles on her dress break into a black colour, creating a contrast with the white. The woman’s black hair within the photo is hidden into an updo on the woman’s head. The woman seems to resemble a dancer or singer, taking the stage at the Cafe.

Out in the audience, near the bottom of the canvas are three figures looking into the show and one another. The three people seem to resemble women, dressed in flamboyant dark hats hiding parts of their hair. A blonde woman in a green dress is seated in the centre, while a woman in a black coat is to her right. Near the bottom left corner of the piece, another woman with orange hair and a red scarf watches the show. These three women almost act as a background to the painting. There is no special attention placed on them as they blend into one another. The setting of the cafe has a stronger impact on the viewer more so than the audience themselves.

The painting is produced in a classic genre Impressionism style Edgar Degas is most known for. The work resembles the style of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. All three artist had a similar feel to their work, while still distinguishing themselves from one another. Yet, all three had an immense impact on the Impressionism art movement that changes modern academia. The setting of the painting is coloured in a cool colour scheme of greens and blues. Three green columns bring support to the piece. Degas did not often include linear figures such as these columns in this work. He preferred a more abstract feel that didn’t have any structure.

White lights stand near the right of the piece bringing light to the stage. The deep blue sky fills the top of the painting as the moon peers through the darkened clouds. Three fireworks fill the top of the sky in shades of blue, red and gold. It seems as if the imagery of the outdoor lighting and fireworks are located outside of the cafe seen through a window.

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