cover image Degas


Rizzoli, Rouart, Denis Rouart. Rizzoli International Publications, $25 (139pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0949-3

Since its publication in Paris in 1945, the late art historian and museum curator's monograph has become a classic reference. This first English translation coincides with a Degas exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rouart incisively investigates Degas's practices with methods and mediums. An expert on painting techniques, Rouart relates how Degas's stylistic ambitions led him to experiment with glue and egg tempera, gouache, pastel and other materials. An overview of Degas's development is not chronological but according to the breakthroughs he achieved with the assorted techniques. Rouart's studies of individual paintings tell the story of their execution; for example, for Dancer with a Fan , Rouart deduces that the artist blew boiling water over his pastel surface to vary its appearance in specific places. Color reproductions are well integrated with the text so readers can confirm Rouart's revelations with their own eyes. How the paintings' chemical composition affects their preservation, and in some cases, deterioration, is taken up as well. Rouart displays brilliant analytical skill and a luxuriant style to match the splendor of his subject's pictures, of which 96 are charmingly reproduced, 68 in color. (Oct.)