(b. 1834, Paris, d. 1917, Paris)
Hilaire de Gas1857
Oil on canvas, 53 x 41 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Degas's family were related to the Italian aristocracy, among them Baroness Bellelli and Duchess Morbilli. In 1856 he traveled for the first time to Italy, where he intended to make the acquaintance of his Italian relatives. This journey, which was followed by another in 1858 and several more in 1859, was Degas's real education. In Italy, Degas preferred the Quattrocento painters and the exponents of Florentine Mannerism.
The people Degas depicted in that time were almost all members of his family, especially his sisters and brothers, and himself. His early portraits achieve their culmination in his group portrait The Bellelli Family.
The present painting represents Hilaire de Gas, the painter's grandfather.