Edgar Degas by N. V. Brodskaia

By N. V. Brodskaia

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On the first page we encounter Ellen Andrée, who modelled for Degas’ The Absinthe Drinker (p. 41). She is a very pretty fair woman, whose artistic talents are small, although her body is in splendid proportion for such a tiny creature. Her principal lovers count amongst the artists of the capital, for whom she has often posed as model. She has been photographed in many poses, always without any clothing, and these studies from life could have been purchased all over Paris for a small sum. She is very straightforward and kind-hearted, but cannot write or read easily, her education having been greatly neglected.

Father wants the world to end as if we were not there to restore order. The lack of opera is a real suffering. We would have rented her a ground-floor box, where she would never have missed a performance, apart from during the delivery, of course. Instead, we have a comedy, drama, vaudeville troup, etc, where there are a lot of very good talents from Montmartre. Here nearly every woman is pretty, and many have a touch of ugliness which adds to their charm. But I fear their minds are as weak as mine, two of us would make for a poorly managed household.

Lippmann told me the other day that you would soon be back and I had some small hope of seeing you there. I am writing to you in order to reduce the force of your reproaches. Perhaps the letter will come back from Portrieux to Paris but it will reach you and perhaps appease you. The heart is like many an instrument, it must be rubbed up and used a lot so that it keeps bright and well. For my own, it is rather you who rub it than its owner. The Song of the Dog, 1876-1877. 5 x 45 cm. Private collection.

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