„A painting is above all a product of the artist's imagination, it must never be a copy. If, at a later stage, he wants to add two or three touches from nature, of course it doesn't spoil anything.“

—  Edgar Degas

Une peinture, c'est d'abord un produit de l'imagination de l'artiste, ce ne doit jamais être une copie. Si, ensuite, on peut y ajouter deux ou trois accents de nature, evidemment ca ne fait pas de mal.
Quoted by Maurice Sérullaz, L'univers de Degas (H. Scrépel, 1979), p. 13
quotes, undated

„Draw all kind of everyday object placed, in such a way that they have in them the life of the man or woman – corsets that have just been removed, for example, and which retain the form of the body. Do a series in aquatint on mourning, different blacks – black veils of deep mourning floating on the face – black gloves – mourning carriages, undertaker’s vehicles – carriages like Venetian gondolas. On smoke – smoker’s smoke, pipes, cigarettes, cigars – smoke from locomotives, from tall factory chimneys, from steam boats, etc. On evening – infinite variety of subjects in cafes, different tones of glass robes reflected in the mirrors. On bakery, bread. Series of baker's boys, seen in the cellar itself or through the basement windows from the street – backs the colour of the pink flour – beautiful curves of dough – still-life's of different breads, large, oval, long, round, etc. Studies in color of the yellows, pinks, grays, whites of bread…… Neither monuments nor houses have ever been done from below, close up as they appear when you walk down the street. [a working note in which Degas planned series of views of modern Paris, the same time when he sketched the backstreet brothels, making graphic unflinching and even his realistic 'pornographic' sketches he called his 'glimpses through the keyhole', in which he also experimented with perspectives]“

—  Edgar Degas

Quote from Degas' Notebooks; Clarendon Press, Oxford 1976, nos 30 & 34 circa 1877; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 182
quotes, undated

„You have to have a high conception, not of what you are doing, but of what you may do one day: without that, there's no point in working.“

—  Edgar Degas

Il faut avoir une haute idée, non pas de ce qu'on fait, mais de ce qu'on pourra faire un jour; sans quoi ce n'est pas la peine de travailler.
"Mad About Drawing" (p. 64)
posthumous quotes

„What a delightful thing is the conversation of specialists! One understands absolutely nothing and it's charming.“

—  Edgar Degas

Quoted in Degas' letter to Daniel Halévy, 31 Jan 1892, from Degas Letters, ed. Marcel Guerin, trans. Marguerite Kay (1947)
1876 - 1895

„It is all well and good to copy what one sees, but it is much better to draw only what remains in one's memory. This is a transformation in which imagination and memory collaborate.“

—  Edgar Degas

Quote of Degas in 1883, as cited by Colin B. Bailey, in The Annenberg Collection: Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-impressionism, publish. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, p. 30 note 10
Degas confided this to Pierre-George Jeanniot
1876 - 1895

„Boredom soon overcomes me when I am contemplating nature.“

—  Edgar Degas

Notebook entry (1858), The Notebooks of Edgar Degas, ed. Theodore Reff (1976)
1855 - 1875

„In our beginnings, Fantin, Whistler and I were all on the same road, the road from Holland [Dutch 17th century painters]“

—  Edgar Degas

Quote of Degas, later recalled by Paul Poujaud (written in his letter to Marcel Guérin, 11 July 1936); as quoted by Colin B. Bailey, in The Annenberg Collection: Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-impressionism, publish. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, p. 54
Degas is recalling his early works of the 1860's
quotes, undated

„What a pity we allowed ourselves to be called Impressionists.“

—  Edgar Degas

Comme nous avons mal fait de nous laisser appeler Impressionistes.
Quoted by Walter Sickert in 'Post-Impressionists,' Fortnightly Review (January 1911)
1896 - 1917

„You need the natural life; I, the artificial.“

—  Edgar Degas

À vous il faut la vie naturelle, à moi la vie factice.
Degas, quoted by George Moore, Impressions and Opinions (1891)
These words were spoken, Moore states, to 'a landscape painter'
1876 - 1895

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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