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By N. V. Brodskaia

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C. qxp 26-Dec-11 4:34 PM Page 52 I have just messed up a large pastel and am somewhat mortified. If I have time I intend to bring back some crude little thing of my own but for myself, for my room. It is not good to do Parisian art and Louisiana art indiscriminately, it is liable to turn into the Monde Illustré. And then nothing but a really long stay can reveal the customs of a people, that is to say their charm. Instantaneousness is photography, nothing more. Have you seen the Mr Schumaker whom you sent to me?

The defect of most, he thought, was ‘a lack of sincerity and a naïvete’. But he believed it was possible to make great art out of such subject matter. ’ It is precisely his ‘naïve’ truthfulness and the element of reflection that enable Degas to transmute base metal into purest gold. As Renoir remarked to the dealer Vollard apropos the monotype print of The Name Day of the Madame (p. xx), ‘At first sight such a subject may often seem pornographic. ’ The Ballet Scene from Meyerbeer’s Opera “Robert Le Diable“, 1876.

Oil on canvas, 46 x 61 cm. Paul J. Sachs Collection, New York. qxp 26-Dec-11 4:34 PM Page 51 To Frølichi Degas Brothers, New Orleans 27 Nov. 1872 It is only today, November 2nd, that I receive your affectionate letter, my dear Frølich. These most accurate Americans had read Norwick Connecticut where in your handwriting New Orleans was written quite clearly. And so through their fault this good paper has travelled around a fortnight too long. The ocean! How vast it is and how far I am from you. The Scotia in which I travelled is an English boat swift and sure.

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