Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kind, Joshua B.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

School of Art


Degas; Edgar; 1834-1917; Monotype (Engraving)--France--History--19th century


Degas’ manipulation and interpretation of the monotype medium enhanced the direction of his work, acting as the transition from oil painting to pastel. By viewing Degas’ expression within the print media, from public artworks to “private” images which were obliterated after his death, a description of an enigmatic artist is distilled. In Chapter I, the monotype process will be discussed relating to Degas’ time period and his experimental inclinations. The artistic manner in which the monotype was manipulated appears to fall along lines of social issues and proprieties, as do the chosen themes and their scale. Chapter II focuses on distribution issues and differences between his private and public artworks. Where the images were shown offers a glimpse into the intimacy found in his personal prints. In Chapter III, Degas’ viewpoint regarding the female nude and his depictions are examined both by Degas’ peers and today’s art historians. Chapter III provides an understanding of Degas’ nudes, their violations of the standards imposed by the dominant artistic community, and also looks at his portrayal of fellow women artists. By examining the roles of gender and class that struggled in Paris for clarification, within the monotypes and his oveure, understanding of the artist’s persistent cultural vision is discerned. Chapter IV discusses the role of men in his society and in his artwork, touching on their roles as protectors, purchasers, and voyeurs. An examination of the social roles Degas occupied in late 19th-century Paris—gentleman, artist, man, voyeur— raises as well issues of class division and privilege. Chapter V examines the economic plight of the lower-class woman, focusing on the roles of “clandestine” and legalized prostitution. In conclusion, Edgar Degas’ explorations of the print technique of monotype were dominated by his social observations of the lower-class working women and their covert activities. The manner in which he portrayed their lives reflected the artist’s personal belief system. His documented actions toward women of all stations clarify his personal intentions and show to the modem viewer a man committed to detailed social observation and an artist concerned with the “modernity” of 19th-century Paris.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [107]-109)


xi, 159 pages




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