The Fitzwilliam Museum will be marking the centenary of Degas’s death with an exhibition that will bring into focus its holdings of works by the artist – the most extensive and representative in the UK. Consisting of paintings, drawings, pastels, etchings, monotypes and sculpture in bronze and wax, the Fitzwilliam’s collection will be complemented by a group of drawings from King’s College, Cambridge, bequeathed by the economist John Maynard Keynes, who famously persuaded the UK Treasury to make a number of key acquisitions for the National Gallery at the artist’s posthumous sale in Paris in 1918. There will also be large number of key national and international loans. The exhibition will then travel to the Denver Art Museum, our partnering institution, for the only venue in the United States, from February to May 2018.
The Fitzwilliam collection highlights many of the themes most prominent in Degas’s work: his interest in learning from the art of the past and of his contemporaries, a life-long fascination for the nude, a passion for horses and, especially, the world of the opera and dance. The latter section will include an in-depth study of his wax sculptural models and subsequent plaster and bronze casting, using technical analyses to reveal the relationship and sequencing of their production.