Watteau to Degas: French Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection
October 6, 2009, through January 10, 2010
Edgar Degas (1834–1917)
Head of a Soldier
Watercolor, gouache, and red chalk wash over graphite
It was during his trip to Italy in the 1850s that Degas produced this unique sheet with its unusual combination of media. Here he appears to draw from a mixture of Renaissance and Mannerist sources. The knight on horseback on the left is adapted from Paolo Uccello’s Battle at San Romano, while the central figure resembles Bronzino’s Portrait of Cosimo I in Armor. Degas combines his Old Master sources with a Romantic sense of drama and introspection, forming a creative synthesis in which imitation complements invention.