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when the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and we're looking at Edgar Degas first great masterpiece this is the belief Amelie it's actually portrait of his own relatives they God in his early career went to Italy a number of times and when he went he often stayed with his mother's sister who is portrayed here in black and it's interesting to think about de God in his early twenties first copying art in the Louvre as a young art student and then going to Florence and Rome and copying all the great masters there is something that seems like early Italian Renaissance here to me in the way that the figures have a kind of stiffness but it's also a stiffness that I think is expressive of their social class you know Degas and here is married to a Baron the man who seated and there is the sense of the formality in their station especially in a portrait and although this is not a traditional formal portrait after all the baron is literally facing away from us yeah nevertheless there is still a sense of the gravity of their place in the world one could also read that as familial tensions I think it's probably all of those things at once the mother looks out of the painting past all of the figures she's dressed in black and mourning and for her father who's pictured in the drawing behind her notice how her gaze is perfectly aligned with the top of the matting of that red pencil drawing yeah look at the young girl in the middle of the canvas she is locked into the frame of that classical dance the man is in that heavy rot an upholstered chair and it's appropriate to his way but the girl on the much more delicate chair and so there really is a way that geometry and sense structures this family and is talking about that psychological aspect here everyone seems to have their role and their psychological space the mother in that decent way the child in the center the younger child who looks like she's not going to be locked in no in fact look at the way that only one of her feet in fact only the toes of one foot is touching the ground attack the other leg underneath that's right so there is a kind of asymmetry there and there's a kind of distance between the husband and the wife and only the one daughter who's looking very prim and proper who looks out at us and meets our gaze but there is that kind of formality and locked-in sense that I think is working on class levels and emotional levels and the space of the interior you know you said something about how we see here and how the gaze works here and how vision works here and I think that that's really important the fact that the figures are really not looking at each other with the possible exception of the father gazing at his daughters and the one daughter gazing at us but then in the upper right corner you've got a reflection in a mirror over the mantle is that a window is that another framed mirror is that a painting and this notion of what it means to look in the sort of the complexity and the reflection of looking itself so the painting is I think a really early and important and ambitious kind of essay not only on intimacy or lack of intimacy not only on social station but also on what it means to create a painting that is about the internal relationships through vision amongst these family members and I see it also as something that we see as a thread through Digga paintings that look very spontaneous and natural but which are carefully composed with a real sense of geometric order it feels incredibly rigorous doesn't it it does the colors are just of the blue oh it's gorgeous