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Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Rocks at Bagnoles-de-l'Orne

From 1861, Degas made regular visits to the country estate of his schoolfriend, Paul Valpinçon, at Château de Ménil-Hubert, in Normandy, in order to ‘drink in some green.’ This view of the Normand countryside not far from his friend’s home was probably painted around 1867. 
Landscape formed a relatively minor part of Degas’ work; he nevertheless made drawings and paintings of landscapes in Italy and France - Normandy, especially - throughout his career. This solid, resolutely unpicturesque rock-scape recalls landscape paintings by Gustave Courbet, that Degas would have known from exhibitions in Paris. 
Watercolours are relatively rare in Degas’ work. Although he made sporadic use of the medium in the 1850s, he later came to consider it ‘thin’.