Works from the 1850s

 
  • Edgar Degas (1834–1917) 
    Studies of the Borghese Gladiator, c. 1853–56
    Black and red chalks on cream laid paper 
    9 1/2 x 12 5/16 in. (24.2 x 31.3 cm)
    Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1971.41

    Underlying Degas’s prowess as a draftsman was a thorough academic training that included drawing after Old Master paintings and Greek and Roman sculpture in the Louvre. An example of this practice, this student work combines images of the celebrated antique marble gladiator, represented from different viewpoints, with the profile of the head of another sculpture.

  • Edgar Degas (1834–1917) 
    Two Portrait Studies of a Man, c. 1856–57
    Graphite with stumping and touches of white chalk on pink wove paper
    17 5/16 x 11 3/8 in. (44 x 28.9 cm)
    Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1393

    This virtuoso drawing was made from life during Degas’s Italian sojourn. The artist studied the half-length figure up close, ingeniously combining two views into a harmonious composition. The facial features and smooth skin are rendered lifelike through fine gradations of light and shadow, achieved through blended strokes of graphite and the addition of white highlights. 

  • Claude Monet (1840–1926) 
    Caricature of a Man with a Snuff Box, c. 1858
    Charcoal heightened with white chalk on blue wove paper 
    23 1/8 x 13 in. (58.8 x 33 cm)
    Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2006.10

    This signed sheet by the young Monet, then known as Oscar, is one of several caricatures he made to earn a living at the outset of his career. Employing his favored format of a large head on a tiny body, supported by even smaller legs and feet, Monet juxtaposes the giant nostrils with the snuff and the handkerchief in the man’s pocket—humorously prefiguring the enormous sneeze that will probably occur following its inhalation.