Place de la Concorde (Degas)

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Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde by Edgar Degas
ArtistEdgar Degas
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions78.4 cm × 117.5 cm (30.9 in × 46.3 in)
LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

Place de la Concorde or Viscount Lepic and his Daughters Crossing the Place de la Concorde is an 1875 oil painting by Edgar Degas.[1] It depicts the cigar-smoking Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic, his daughters Eylau and Jeanine, his dog, and a solitary man on the left at Place de la Concorde in Paris. The man on the left may be the playwright Ludovic Halévy. The Tuileries Gardens can be seen in the background, behind a stone wall.

The painting was widely considered to have been lost following World War II. In 1994, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the State Hermitage Museum revealed that it was in possession of over 70 French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, includingPlace de la Concorde, that had been looted from Germany by Soviet Forces. In 1995, Place de la Concorde was exhibited in public for the first time in decades at an exhibition titled Hidden Treasures Revealed.


Ludovic Lepic c. 1874. Photograph by Nadar.

Edgar Degas's painting Place de la Concorde depicts Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic, his two daughters Eylau and Jeanine, and their dog Albrecht, crossing the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France.[2] In the painting, Lepic walks though the square carelessly as his daughters move in the opposite direction. He is dressed fashionably, and he holds his umbrella under his arm and his cigar in his mouth as he walks. All of these details portray Lepic as the archetypal Flâneur.[3] The red patch on his overcoat indicates his rank in the Legion of Honour.[4]

Ludovic Lepic was a close friend of Edgar Degas's. The two likely met through their shared interests such as opera and ballet.[5] Lepic appears in eleven of Degas's artworks total, which is more than any other single individual outside of Degas's immediate family.[6] The tall, solitary man on the left edge of the painting has been identified as the playwright Ludovic Halévy,[7] who was also a close friend of Degas's until the Dreyfus affair.[8] Degas himself lived on the Rue de Mondovi, just around the corner from the Place de la Concorde.[9]

A black and white photograph of Eylau Lepic.
Eylau Lepic c. 1876 – c. 1877. Photograph by Nadar.
A black and white photograph of Jeanine Lepic.
Jeanine Lepic c. 1876 – c. 1877. Photograph by Nadar.

The painting has been noted for accurately capturing the two girls individual personalities. In the painting, Eylau, the older of the two girls, stands more confidently than her younger sister. Similarly, in a c. 1876-77 photograph, she stands in a tomboyish manner with her hands on her hips.[10] Eylau was named after the Battle of Eylau, in which Ludovic Lepic's grandfather, General Joseph-Louis Lepic, fought in 1807.[11] In the painting, Jeanine, the younger of the two girls, stands tentatively with her father. In an c. 1876-77 photograph, she stands much more proper and ladylike than her older sister.[10]

In the background of the painting to the right, behind the wall, is the Tuileries Garden. The building visible in the background to the left is the Hôtel de la Marine, which at the time housed the French Ministry of the Navy.[9] Also in the background are two monuments dedicated to the cites of Lille and Strasbourg which feature sculptures by James Pradier. At the center-top of painting in the background is the monument dedicated to the city of Lille. Toward the right and almost entirely obscured by Lepic's hat is the monument dedicated to the city of Strasbourg.[12][13][14] At the time that Degas created the painting, the monument to Strasbourg would have been draped in black to mourn the loss of the city to Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War.[8][15] Depictions of urban exteriors such as in Place de la Concorde are rare in Edgar Degas's oeuvre.[16]


Edgar Degas's study for "Place de la Concorde", c. 1875.
Edgar Degas's study for Place de la Concorde, c. 1875.

Art historians have frequently noted the dramatic cropping and large amount of negative space in Edgar Degas's Place de la Concorde. In the painting, Lepic and his two daughters are cropped out of frame at the waist. Another figure, a solitary man with a cane, is half cropped out of frame. Between the figures and the buildings is a large amount of negative space representing a nearly empty street. The dramatic cropping, the downward perspective, and asymmetrical composition may have been influenced by Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, of which Degas was known to be a collector.[17]

A photograph of The Place de la Concorde in 2010.
A photograph of the Place de la Concorde in 2010.

The solitary man who has been partially cropped out of frame has been observed as being unusually tall. In a preparatory study that Degas made for the painting, there is a lamp post in the position where the man stands in the painting. An on location observation of the Place de la Concorde, which has changed very little since the 1870s, from the same vantage point as the painting also reveal that there is a lamp post in the man's position.[12] In the painting, Ludovic Lepic's two daughters overlap his umbrella and his dog. Infrared and x-ray examinations of the painting revealed that both the umbrella and the dog were both fully completed underneath the two daughters, which could suggest that the daughters were not present in the painting's original composition.[12]

The format of the painting has been altered from what it originally was when it was painted. A six or seven centimeter section of canvas has been folded behind the stretcher along the lower edge. The lower edge of the canvas has also been cut, which probably removed the signature. These modification were made by Degas himself after the painting had been well dried, most likely before the painting was sent to the gallery of Paul Durand-Ruel.[18]

Influence from photography[edit]

A photograph of Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic's dog Albrecht.

Many art historians believe that the large amount of negative space, the cropping, and the way in which the figures are facing in random directions were influenced by photography. Art historian Aaron Scharf, for example, compared Place de la Concorde, as well as some of Degas's other paintings, to a series of photographs titled Vues instantanées de Paris by photographer Hippolyte Jouvin. Many of Jouvin's photographs feature human figures and horse drawn carriages that are partially cropped out of frame in a similar manner to Degas's paintings, including Place de la Concorde.[19] Additionally, there exists a photograph of Ludovic Lepic's dog Albrecht in a very similar position to that of the painting. It is probable that Degas used the photograph as a reference.[20]

Provenance and exhibition history[edit]

Despite being the painting's subject, Place de la Concorde was never owned by Ludovic Lepic and Edgar Degas likely did not paint it for him. The painting remained in the possession of Degas, who never exhibited it on his own, until it was sold to Paul Durand-Ruel.[21] In 1911, the German art collector Otto Gerstenberg purchased the painting from Durand-Ruel for 120,000 franks. The painting, along with the rest of Gerstenberg's collection, was left to his daughter Margarete Scharf after his death in 1935. In 1943, during World War II, most of Gerstenberg's art collection was stored in the bunker of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The rest of the collection was stored elsewhere in the Victoria firm and was destroyed in an air raid. After the war, the surviving paintings of Gerstenberg's collection were looted by the Soviet Union.[22][18][23]

Place de la Concorde had been assumed to have been destroyed for almost five decades following World War II. In 1994, the Hermitage Museum publicly announced that it was in possession of more than 70 French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings that had been looted from private German collections by the Soviet Union during the war. Along with Edgar Degas's Place de la Concorde, the Hermitage Museum announced it was in possession of paintings by other artists including Paul Cézanne, Honoré Daumier, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh. The paintings had been locked in small storage room on the second floor of the museum, and had only been known to a handful of museum personnel.[23][24][25] Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Hermitage Museum's director, had only seen the paintings for the first time in 1991.[26]

In 1995, the Hermitage Museum held an exhibition titled Hidden Treasures Revealed which displayed 74 looted paintings, including Edgar Degas's Place de la Concorde. Many of these artworks had never been exhibited before. Of the 74 paintings, 73 had been taken from private collections. Only one painging by Claude Monet had been taken from a public museum collection. Five of these paintings, including Place de la Concorde, had been taken from the collection of Otto Gerstenberg.[23][25] Nearly 600,000 people attended the exhibition in the first few months of the show.[27]

The exhibition Hidden Treasures Revealed proved to be controversial due to its displaying looted artworks. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Hermitage Museum sought to become more open with the rest of the world by displaying these previously hidden artworks.[24] Despite previous agreements between Russian and Germany in 1990 and 1992 to return unlawfully looted artworks, Russian officials argued that only artworks stolen by individual soldiers could be considered unlawfully taken, and that artworks taken under official orders did not need to be returned to their previous owners.[26][28] To this day, Place de la Concorde remains in the collection of the Hermitage Museum.

See also[edit]

  • Count Lepic and His Daughters – an earlier 1871 painting of the Lepic family by Edgar Degas.
  • At the Races in the Countryside – another painting by Edgar Degas which has been argued to show influence from photography.
  • Otto Krebs – a German art collector. Paintings from his looted collection were also featured in the exhibition Hidden Treasures Revealed.


  1. ^ "Degas: Place de la Concorde. From the Masterpieces Reborn series". The State Hermitage Museum. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  2. ^ Crisci-Richardson 2015, p. 172.
  3. ^ Kostenevich (1995), p. 72.
  4. ^ Russell, John (8 February 1995). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; A Show With Lessons Esthetic and Political". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2024.
  5. ^ Buchanan 1997, pp. 34, 45–46.
  6. ^ Buchanan 1997, p. 32.
  7. ^ Kostenevich (1995), pp. 71–2.
  8. ^ a b Crisci-Richardson 2015, p. 170.
  9. ^ a b Crisci-Richardson 2015, p. 174.
  10. ^ a b Buchanan 1997, p. 83.
  11. ^ Buchanan 1997, pp. 34, 42.
  12. ^ a b c Meller, Mari Kálmán (2003). "Degas's 'Place de la Concorde: Vicomte Lepic and His Daughters'". The Burlington Magazine. 145 (1201): 273–281. ISSN 0007-6287. JSTOR 3100666. Retrieved 14 March 2024.
  13. ^ Crisci-Richardson 2015, pp. 170–171.
  14. ^ Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette; Pinegeot, Anne; Hohl, Reinhold; Rose, Barbara (1987). Sculpture: The Adventure of Modern Sculpture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Geneva: Skira; London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. p. 29. ISBN 0-297-79046-3. Retrieved 15 March 2024.
  15. ^ Boggs, Jean Sutherland (1994). "Degas as a Portraitist". In Baumenn, Felix; Karabelnik, Marianne (eds.). Degas: Portraits. London: Merrell Holberton. pp. 42–43. ISBN 1-85894-014-1. Retrieved 15 March 2024.
  16. ^ Shackelford, George T.M. (2015). "Man in the Middle". Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter's Eye. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-226-26355-7. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  17. ^ Boggs, Jean Sutherland (1962). Portraits by Degas. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 54–55.
  18. ^ a b Kostenevich (1995), p. 79.
  19. ^ Scharf, Aaron (1974). Art and Photography (Revised 1974 ed.). Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin Books Ltd. pp. 198–202. ISBN 978-0-14-021722-3.
  20. ^ Rubin, James H. (2003). Impressionist Cats & Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 65–68. ISBN 978-0-300-09873-0.
  21. ^ Kostenevich (1995), p. 71.
  22. ^ Kostenevich (1995), pp. 17–8.
  23. ^ a b c Erlanger, Steven (30 March 1995). "Hermitage, in Its Manner, Displays Its Looted Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  24. ^ a b Russell, John (4 October 1994). "Hermitage Reveals It Hid Trove of Impressionist Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  25. ^ a b Knight, Christopher (20 March 1995). "COLUMN ONE : Displaying the Spoils of War : The Hermitage is about to exhibit Impressionist masterpieces the Soviet army took out of Nazi Germany. The dispute over who has a right to such 'trophy art' is fueled by the lure of big money and the bitterness of old foes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  26. ^ a b Hiatt, Fred (30 March 1995). "STALIN'S GERMAN WAR TROPHIES DAZZLE THE ART WORLD". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  27. ^ Sardar, Zahid (12 November 1995). "For the first time since World War II, over 70 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces secreted away in Russia, are being shown to the world at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. The accompanying exhibit catalog, "Hidden Treasures Revealed"". CT Insider. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  28. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (23 January 1995). "Revelations and Agonizing On Soviet Seizure of Artwork". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2023.


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