A MiddLab Project

Degas, Gauguin and the Theme of Isolation in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art

Learn more about French and the History of Art at Middlebury College.

Paul Gaugin and Edgar Degas were working side by side, though they had never collaborated on a project. In 1892, Gauguin took an unprecedented step in his career and completed the unfinished drawing of Degas titled Nude Woman Drying Herself. Degas and Gauguin are two of the most celebrated nineteenth-century French artists. Degas’ art focuses primarily on the urban Parisian figure, while Gauguin is more fascinated with the rural character, enhanced by his sojourns in both Brittany and Tahiti. What unites the two artists’ work is their fascination with the depiction of the human figure in intimate contexts and the theme of isolation. In nineteenth-century art, the capturing of private moments was not a theme exclusive to Gauguin and Degas; however, these two artists are linked by inextricable similarities in their art. My research focuses on these aforementioned similarities that scholars have yet to explore.


Anna Zauner

John Hunisak
Sponsor &  Professor of History of Art & Architecture

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  • TOH Kim Hsiang Jason AB ’01.5

    I hope you went to the Slade School of Fine Art rather than take another MA at the History of Art department at UCL, the _global_ University situated in the City (meaning: the Wall Street) of London. And, during my time, another B.A., (honours) from Magdalen (‘moaning lane’) College, cantab., coupled mechanically-speaking to my exclusive Magna cum laude from Middlebury College could have made it possible for me to start with a Porter bag at Christie’s and, most likely would not get a Specialist who told me I dressed like an ‘uncle’ and not vivacious enough to differentiate myself with the other uber-talking Specialists, until I flash my credentials as Midd-Cam. Or, Midd French + Art [criticism [with a hug]] + History :-) Met a long-time faculty from UCL whom I was introduced by my former Director at the National Museum of Singapore [history] and she gave me a dirty-look when I haven’t gone gallivanting in London for a long-time. So, I’ve been very curious if it was a junior from my alma mater or, an elementary school-chum from Home that parlayed ‘muchos’ with her son who has an interest in historical drawings of birds [and bees]. Maybe back then, I should have took another bus and went across to Oxford Ruskin to get a second opinion on my flat drawings and senior study without the ventilating system placed on-top of the building structure (see below) and blame it all on my teacher’s pretty girlfriend with a teenage son who wanted to move to Hawaii because she has an island all unto her own family, from Del[aware] perhaps quite likely. I should have written back to Mr Croft or Mr Andres to say how miserable I was when I came home to serve the remaining of months owed to the military. Now, 11 years past like a mare galloping gone with the wind speed-[as if quite] like [it literally speaking], I co-read [open inverted commas] Colossus [close inverted commas] and [open inverted commas] PRINCIPLES OF ART HISTORY[close inverted commas] by Penguin Books and Dover Publications in my room two-thirds the size of my last room at the New dorms. I can purchase myself a house with some land in Pennsylvania but let’s see what reply I receive after I write back to negotiate by plying for more work to do besides reading student applications from foreign countries and giving them the [cover] looks like a Bowdoin and Macalester mom and dad. Please, go to the Slade or Ruskin (i know roughly about the Russian connection) but, ask your parents to be truthful about family history and don’t make the same mistakes I made and still, everyone who knew, just kept quiet, except One who asked one question and I met four times in 30+ years. Luckily, there is a college president who is a trained art historian but from a University claiming first rights as the Research University of America.

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