Pocketguide to CMA: Degas’ Houses at the Foot of a Cliff (Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme)

In this new series we feature masterworks and other art from Columbus Museum of Art’s Collection. 

Degas, Houses at the Foot of a Cliff (Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme)

This painting, completed when the artist was more than sixty years old, depicts the seaside where he vacationed as a young boy. Edgar Degas was an Impressionist painter earlier in his career. He often showed women in light-filled interiors, such as ballerinas or bathers. Landscapes comprise less than ten percent of Degas’s work, making them extremely rare. This landscape represents a departure from actual appearances: the colors are not true to life. Neither the lavender sky nor the blue rooftops appeared in nature. Moreover, Degas combined views from various sketches and photographs to create a nostalgic mood, perhaps to suggest distant childhood memories.

What are your most treasured vacation memories? What place would you choose to paint?

Look for this work, now on view in as part of a reinstall of permanent collection highlights, then learn more during the return of Wednesdays @ 2 talks (now virtual via Zoom) with The Artist’s Eye: CMA’s Modern Art Masterpieces with Chief Curator David Stark on July 29. Register to receive the Zoom link.

– David Stark, Chief Curator at CMA, has a background in museum education that includes positions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. He has taught art history and visual culture at Columbia College Chicago, has lectured on numerous international travel programs with the Art Institute, and his publications on 19th century Belgian art have appeared in American and European journals and catalogs.