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Olive Trees Against a Mountainous Background, c. 1890-1892

Edgar Degas

French, 1834-1917
Pastel over monotype on paper
comp: 10 x 13-5/8 in. (25.4 x 34.6 cm); sheet: 10-5/8 x 14-1/8 in. (27.0 x 35.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1983.02.1.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

A consummate urbanite who often railed against his Impressionist colleagues for painting landscapes en plein air, Edgar Degas nevertheless turned his focus toward the out-of-doors in the latter part of his career. During a trip to Burgundy in 1890, the artist best known for his images of Parisian dancers and working women began a series of landscape monotypes. Degas made these ethereal, often unrecognizable vistas using a two-step process. First he applied oil paint to a metal plate, wiping paint away
and using his fingers to manipulate the image. After running the plate through a press onto wet paper, he worked up the “printed” image with pastel. The result is an exquisite contrast of textures. Here the smooth monotype underprinting can be seen most clearly below the trees at left in Olive Trees.

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