A NGA travelling exhibition, Impressions of Paris: Lautrec, Degas, Daumier examined the major contribution to French art made by three key figures: Honoré-Victorin Daumier (1808–1879), Edgar Degas (1834–1917) and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901). A generation apart, each was a consummate draughtsman whose innovative compositions and embrace of modern subject matter played a significant role in artistic developments in France over the nineteenth century.
During the 1800s Paris had witnessed the remarkable growth of the popular press. The technique of lithography, invented at the turn of the eighteenth century, was adopted by practicing artists as it was a printmaking technique conducive to drawing freely and directly.
For publishers of newspapers, lithography allowed for larger print runs compared to earlier printing methods. Newspapers and journals began to include serialisation of novels by writers like Émile Zola, as well as caricatures by artists such as Daumier, which were often satiric and of a contemporary social or political nature. All of these factors helped to sell newspapers and journals to a growing and appreciative audience.
Brought together for the first time, MAMA presented five Degas bronzes drawn from three state cultural institutions, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery NSW and the National Gallery of Australia.
Known for his interest in the human figure and in particular unique poses of performance and dance, Degas sculptures were for his private creative workings but on his death in 1917, more than 150 pieces of sculpture were found in his studio, most were of wax, clay, and plasticine, nearly all had reached various stages of deterioration, so in 1918 a series of casts, or editions, of bronzes were made from seventy-two of the small figures.