Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec
London and Paris 1870–1910
Tate Britain: Exhibition
5 October 200515 January 2006
  • Edgar Degas L'Absinthe

    Edgar Degas
    L’Absinthe 1875–6
    Oil on canvas

    Lent by the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
    © photo RMN H. Lewandowski

Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec presents the height of decadence this autumn, featuring many of the most famous images of ballet dancers, cancan girls and music hall singers from the turn of the century. The exhibition explores the frenzied exchange of ideas between British and French painters of the time and presents a debauched modern world of decadence, entertainment and dandyism.

Among the many great images is Edgar Degas’s L’Absinthe 1875–6, lent by the Musée d’Orsay and not seen in an exhibition in London since the nineteenth century. It was condemned as ‘immoral’, ‘vulgar’, ‘boozy’ and ‘degraded’ when it was shown in London in 1893, whereas others instantly proclaimed it a masterpiece, demonstrating the divided feelings over the new art techniques and subject matter.

While Edgar Degas, Walter Sickert and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec dominate the exhibition, the show presents modern scenes by many other innovative painters, such as Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and James Tissot. Drawing on a range of international collections in Europe, Australia and the United States, this is an unmissable chance to explore a moment of brilliant artistic invention and see some of the most beautiful paintings from the founding years of modern art.