Remembrance of Things Past

Coffeetable Books

December 17, 1999:

Degas and New Orleans:

A French Impressionist in America

by Gail Feigenbaum

Rizzoli, 192 pp., $40

The only French Impressionist in America, it turns out. Accompanying an exhibit that reassembles the two dozen or so paintings that Edgar Degas (1834-1917) made during a five-month visit to the Crescent City in 1872, Degas and New Orleans: A French Impressionist in America reveals that the Parisian who later became famous for transforming ballerinas into angels was "the only member of the French Impressionists to have worked in North America." New Orleans, the city of his mother's birth and his brother Rene's marriage to their Creole cousin, was pivotal to Degas' career in that he returned home and blossomed into Degas! -- racetracks, orchestra pits, dancing classes. New Orleans also became the inspiration for a series of family portraits the painter kept with him until his death, as well as the now world-renowned A Cotton Office in New Orleans, the first Impressionist painting to enter a French museum. A must for coffeetables on Esplanade Avenue.

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