War and Insurrection (31) - Return to Paris
1 June 1871, Edgar Degas returned to Paris. Since the end of the war, he had been staying with the Valpinçons at their château in Ménil-Hubert-sur-Orne, Normandy. Paul Valpinçon was a lifelong friend of his, and a cousin of Gustave Caillebotte, which explains how Degas and Caillebotte met each other. Through Valpinçon, Degas also met Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a neo-classical painter whom he worshiped, archconservative as he once was.
Back in Paris, any influence that Ingres may have had on Degas’ work was fading away quickly. Look at one of the first works that he made after his return: the study of “Count Lépic and his daughters”. It has al the freshness of a first impression. A few years later, Lépic and his daughters appeared on “Place de la Concorde”. Any influence of Ingres has totally disappeared.
By the way, this Count Lépic, a ballet aficionado, may well have helped Degas to gain access to the backstage areas of the Rue Le Peletier Opéra, where he could see the ballerinas at work, whom he would so often paint and sculpt.
Edgar Degas, Vicomte Lépic et ses filles (Count Lépic and his daughters), c.1871. Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm. Stiftung Sammlung E.G. Bührle, Zürich, Switzerland
Edgar Degas, Place de la Concorde, 1875. Oil on canvas, 78.4 x 117.5 cm. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia