Portrait of a Man

Degas experimented with radical compositions in a number of portraits during the 1860s and 1870s. The figure in this painting is shown seated at a desk with his body turned away from us, absorbed in his own thoughts. The painting was neither signed nor exhibited during the artist’s lifetime, perhaps because he considered it unfinished. Though the sitter has never been identified, he was probably a friend or acquaintance as Degas rarely accepted commissions.


The artist (d. 1917, fourth studio sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 2-4 July 1919, no. 8, ill., sold to Knoedler, as agent for Clark); Robert Sterling Clark (1919–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

French, 1834–1917

Portrait of a Man

c. 1877

Oil on canvas

31 1/8 x 23 1/4 in. (79 x 59 cm) Frame: 38 1/2 x 31 1/4 in. (97.8 x 79.4 cm)

Acquired by Sterling Clark, 1919