A selection of portraits by two great masters will be on view at the Clark in the intimate exhibition Rembrandt and Degas: Two Young Artists, a first-time exploration of Rembrandt’s influence on Degas that will present portraits by both artists side-by-side. The portraits and etchings on view will include Rembrandt’s Self Portrait as a Young Man (ca. 1628–29) from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and Self-Portrait as a Young Man (ca. 1628–29) from the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, and Degas’s Self Portrait (ca. 1857) from the Clark’s collection.
At the beginning of his career Edgar Degas created about forty self portraits in paintings, prints, and drawings during a brief period in the mid- to late-1850s. As a developing artist he studied the portraiture of earlier masters, perhaps none more closely than Rembrandt, who had made self portraits throughout his life. Degas encountered Rembrandt’s etchings during his student years and on subsequent travels in Italy, and he made several direct copies of Rembrandt’s prints. This experience seems to have stimulated Degas’s own exploration of the technical and expressive potential of portraiture and self portraiture in painted and graphic form.
Rembrandt and Degas: Two Young Artists comes to the Clark from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Following the Clark, the exhibition will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in February 2012. The exhibition was organized by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in association with the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the works are drawn primarily from the holdings of each institution.