Bust of Degas

Bust of Degas
Paul Paulin (French, 1852-1937)
18-1/4 x 16-1/4 x 12-1/4 in. (46.4 x 41.3 x 31.1 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

A successful dentist who came to art late in life, Paul Paulin nevertheless quickly forged relationships among the Parisian avant-garde. In 1883 he met Edgar Degas (1834–1917), but it would be 25 years before he created this portrayal of the famous artist. In the sculpture, Paulin’s free hand lends a dynamism to his rather serious depiction of a famous, and by then famously reclusive, artist. When the work was exhibited in 1909, one critic remarked on Paulin’s insightfulness, stating, “[M]en...do not easily reveal their innermost thoughts, and feelings have rarely been so intelligently and sensitively interpreted.” Paulin had the advantage of a long-term friendship with Degas, and the sculptor’s keen understanding of the sitter’s gravitas is expertly realized.

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