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1876-1877
Pastel on monotype
H. 37; W. 26 cm
Acquired in 1910
 
Masterpieces
Edgar Degas
(Hilaire Germain Edgar de Gas, dit)
[Paris, 1834 - Paris, 1917]
Café-Concert at Les Ambassadeurs

Café-Concert at Les Ambassadeurs is one of the most well-known pastels by Edgar Degas. The artist first presented it in 1877 at an exhibition of the Impressionist group.


The striking composition of this musical performance places the spectator among the people in the orchestra section in the shadowed foreground. The eye is attracted beyond the musicians to the singer in a red dress, who is strongly illuminated by the footlights.


Degas' mastery of scenic effects tied to artificial lighting, an original composition and his virtuosity with pastel reinforce the lively aspect of this scene, which seems to have been drawn on the spot.


From 1876 to 1886, Degas often used a printing technique known as monotype. For this drawing in particular, he used a rare process that involves drawing over the monotype with pastel. The black ink of the monotype thus accentuates the shadowed areas.