New show a portrait of Rembrandt, Degas as young men

Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:33am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new exhibition featuring a series of early portraits by Rembrandt and the French Impressionist Edgar Degas reveals a kinship between the two artists and the impact the Dutch master had on future generations.

"Rembrandt and Degas: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," which opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday and runs through May 20, resulted from a collaboration with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

"It traces the heritage of these works by Degas to a period in his career when he was looking closely at Rembrandt," said Susan Alyson Stein, curator of the museum's Department of European Paintings.

"But I think you can't help, when you look at their works side-by-side and give thought to the respected legacies of both artists, to consider how much they were really on the same page."

Although from separate centuries and vastly different in personality, with Rembrandt a very outgoing person, compared to the reclusive Degas, Stein said the works of both artists are rooted in direct observation. Both are also known for their novel invention and their realism and versatility as artists.

They were also "perhaps the most innovative figure painters and print makers of their day," she added.

The very focused exhibition consists of about two dozen paintings, drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, who worked in the in the 1600s, and Degas, who was born 165 years after his death.

It includes "Self-Portrait" by Degas in oil which was completed in 1856 and traces his development to a time when he was looking to find his way as an artist. It also shows the impact Rembrandt had on Degas from the 1850s when he studied and copied some of the Dutch master's prints which led to his own self portraits early on in his career.   Continued...