Known for his works focusing on dancers, Degas also painted many individual portraits later in his career. This work is a pastel, a medium he mastered after his consistent use of oils, which focuses on a single man who is presumed to be Louis-Edmond Duranty. His application of the pastels in complex layers hints at his growing interest in expressive colors. The piece is a favorite of readers, who can certainly relate to the relaxed posture of the subject enjoying his book and the company of his cats.
Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas, Homme assis lisant, portrait présumé de Louis-Edmond Duranty (Seated man reading, portrait presumed to be of Louis-Edmond Duranty), 1880 - 1881, On loan from the Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Trust for Art. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.