The grit and grandeur of New Orleans helped give rise to an icon of French Impressionism.
Even though he’d longed to visit his departed mother’s birthplace his entire life, Edgar Degas didn’t make it to New Orleans until he was on the cusp of forty. He found the Crescent City wracked with post–Civil War devastation even as his brother plunged the family toward bankruptcy and scandal. But in the midst of turmoil, Degas still found inspiration. Indeed, Degas’ dramatic time in New Orleans led him on a new path in his work: Impressionism. Authors Rory O’Neill Schmitt and Rosary O’Neill explore the relatively brief but consequential New Orleans interlude in the life of Edgar Degas.
Edgar Degas's mother was from New Orleans and from the time he buried her, he pined for Louisiana. In 1872, when he arrived, he found New Orleans wracked with devastation. He struggled with the conflict of helping his family' bankrupt cotton business, while pursuing his passion to paint. Amidst this turmoil, blossomed a tragic friendship with his blind sister-in-law, his beautiful muse. Edgar nearly went mad when he discovered his brother had gone through all the family money and was having an affair with his wife's best friend. This book rips open the divide between Edgar and his brother that kept them from speaking for ten years and led Edgar to start a new direction in his work: Impressionism.
Rory O’Neill Schmitt, PhD, is a filmmaker and an administrator at USC. She studied the psychology of being an artist and the cathartic process of artmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, working as a board-certified art therapist in Southern California. An exhibiting fine art photographer as well as a writer, Rory has also penned two books about the creative process with Arcadia: Navajo and Hopi Art in Arizona and New Orleans Voodoo: A Cultural History (with Rosary O’Neill). Rosary O’Neill, PhD, is a Senior Fulbright Drama Specialist and winner of nine Fulbrights, including five to Paris to study Degas. She has published nineteen plays with Concord Publishers (aka Samuel French in New York City), including Degas in New Orleans and Marilyn/God, three play anthologies and six books. A professor emerita at Loyola University New Orleans, Rosary founded the first repertory theater in New Orleans, Southern Rep, and is a member of the Playwrights Division of the Actors Studio in New York City.