This small but important section of Valery’s DegasDanse Dessins describes Degas’ way of seeing thefemale form. To Valery, Degas drew the “l’animalféminin” in different attitudes of her daily life: tying aballet shoe or ironing a blouse, or at the bath in order toshow the entire system of her living mechanism with theclarity of a facial expression: “grimacer comme unvisage.” Degas sought a “ligne unique qui détermine unefigure” one not seen in classical art or by any artistbefore him.
Valery then recounts a wonderful anecdote told to him by Degas: Degas describes his eveninghabit of riding on an open deck of a bus all across Paris. On one occasion, Degas carefullyobserves a working woman seated across from him going through her precise ritual of precautionsand movements in the arrangement of her gloves, her skirt, her expression, her entire person in avery personal routine until she arrives at a “nouvel état d’équilibre apparament stable, mais qui nedure qu’un moment..”
The art historian Douglas Cooper writes that the reader of Valéry’s writings will find in DegasDanse Dessin an “impressive, tortuous and allusive piece of writing...where we are givenglimpses of Degas the man” (and also of Valery the writer) (Cooper xxxiii-iv).
Ref: (Cooper): Degas, Manet, Morisot. Translated by David Paul. With an introduction by DouglasCooper.[New York] : Pantheon Books, ; Provenance: Andre Schück’s library was sold inthree sales in Paris in 1986, 1987,-2005: To an American collector.
Valery manuscripts rarely appear on the market. (Inventory #: 1296)