Edgar Degas

One of the myriad delights of having a treasure house like the National Gallery on your doorstep is that even after half a century of wandering through its galleries every now and then it’s possible to stumble upon gems you’ve never noticed before. This time, in a room dominated by Corot, Pissarro, Rousseau, Klimt and famous Degas ballerinas, I found two miniature masterpieces by the latter: a glorious caricature-like rendering of his cartoonist friend Carlo Pellegrini and, even better, a stunning 23x9cm scene of two men locked in earnest conversation over drinks in an 1870 painting entitled At The Cafe Chateaudun which positively fizzes with Parisian atmosphere and intellectual intensity. A serendipitous joy.

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