AU Museum Exhibits Degas’ Painting “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet” from Japan

The famous painting “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet” and nineteen engravings created for the famous French writer Maupassant’s short-story work “La Maison Tellier,” all by the renowned French Impressionist Edgar Degas and borrowed from the Kitakyushu Museum of Art in Japan, were opened today in Asia Museum of Modern Art at Asia University (AU) for exhibition. The painting “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet” was a mystery lasting for 181 years related to the friendship between Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet, both famous artists in the 19th century. “Today is a glory day in our exhibition of Edgar Degas’ works at AU,” said AU Founder Chang-Hai Tsai at the opening ceremony.

20150617-1Hsun Chiang, a famous aesthetics master in Taiwan and the chief planning director of this exhibition of Edgar Degas’ works, told the audience at the ceremony about the story of the mysterious painting “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet.” He said that Manet married Suzanne Leenhoff in 1863 who was employed by Manet’s father as a piano teacher for Manet and his younger brother. Degas went to see Manet very often, and painted Manet and his wrife’s portraits all the time. Being very satisfied with the work “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet,” Degas gave it to Manet as a gift. However, painting was cut later to be as it is exhibited today, in which only part of Suzanne’s back is left. Degas was angry, decided to break with Manet, and took away the painting. The perfect work “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet” now became an unrepairable painting. “Who destroyed the painting? Why? How did Degas think of the painting? All these became unsettled questions in the art history,” said Master Chiang.

Kitakyushu Museum Director Nishimura said in the ceremony that the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art has been established for 40 years, and that it is a great pleasure to lend the paintings for exhibition at the AU museum. He hopes lots of people will come to appreciate the famous paintings. “This is one small step for me, but a giant leap for exchanges between Taiwan and Kyushu,” said Nishimura.

AU Founder Tsai mentioned that the famous painting “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet” by Edgar Degas gets out of Kyushu, Japan for the first time. Other than the borrowed works, Asia Museum of Modern Art is now exhibiting as well 74 pieces of sculpture by Degas. It is the first international exhibition taking place in Taiwan for Edgar Degas, who is a famous 19th-century Impressionism master. The “Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” is one of the best-known Degas’ sculpture artworks in the world of art, which is also exhibited in the museum. “The current exhibition is part of Taiwan’s effort in the worldwide celebration of Degas’ 180th birthday,” said Founder Tsai.

AU President Jeffrey J.P. Tsai said, “What a historic moment this is to have the opportunity to borrow this famous genuine painting by Edgar Degas from the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art!” He hopes that this interaction between the two museums will develop further in the near future.

The nineteen engravings created by Degas for the famous Maupassant’s short-story book “La Maison Tellier” were the “jewel of place’ in the Kitakyushu Museum collections. Edgar Degas was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with his creative works about the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist. He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.

The exhibition of the famous painting “Monsieur et Madame Édouard Manet” and nineteen engravings created for “La Maison Tellier” runs from June 6 to August 2. Returning visitors can enter the Asia museum of Modern Art again for free with a ticket stub from a previous visit.

Degas was an Impressionism painter who was influenced by Edouard Manet’s paintings and paid extreme attention to the daily life of the ordinary people in the contemporary city. His paintings, including topics of ballet dancer, laundry woman, stock market, cotton exchange market, etc., recorded the history, industry, society, people and spirit of his time. His natural and realistic style on sculptures was praised by Renoir. People in his time regarded him as one of the most important sculptors in the 19th century.