Place de la Concorde
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cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Degas' hustle for quick cash snowballed into an international scandal in the wake of the largest war in human history.

The artist made a habit of painting his friend, the Viscount Ludovic-Napoleon Lepic, with the kiddiesConcorde is the one that gets everyone's attention. Degas was hard up for money, so the Viscount agreed to buy the painting instead of embarrassing everyone with offering a handout.

Lepic lead a life of luxury. He was just high enough up the nobility ladder for everyone to kiss his ass, but not so noble as to have "real life problems." His biggest daily challenge was figuring out how to convince his championship-winning purebred dogs to keep breeding. Otherwise, time was split between the daughters and the studio making prints. Ludovic wasn't a master by any means, but his paintings did get wall space with the Impressionists. Degas even acknowledged learning a few techniques from the Viscount. To be fair, he was a good pair of deep pockets to have on your friends list.

Lepic's hat alone gets Concorde a fair amount of attention. It's not the hat itself, though it's easily 8.5/10 as far as top hats go. Totally not knocking the top hat. Tall, nice flow with the beard. It's what the top hat covers that matters. Behind yonder hat is a famous statue dedicated to the French who died in the Franco-Prussian War, as well as to losing Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. Parisians flocked to the statue to bury it in flowers and wreaths and drape it in black around the war's anniversary. The Impressionists all had a bad time with the Franco-Prussian War, and went out of their way to keep such topics from tainting their work.

Fast-forward to WWII, and Concorde is in the collection of German businessman Otto Gerstenberg. Everyone presumed it blown up in the Allies' bombing of Dresden, but fifty years after the war, the Russian government confirmed the worst kept secret in the art world. They had dozens of masterpieces lifted from the Nazis and private Germans in the wake of the war, all cataloged and stored in an underground vault in Saint Petersburg. Including Concorde. The international community demanded take-backs, but Russia's federal government passed a law formalizing finders-keepers.

mhoutzager's picture


Also known as Viscount Lepic and his Daughters Crossing the Place de la Concorde.

Viscount Lepic is the grandson of Louis Lepic, Napoleon’s friend and General.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Place de la Concorde (Degas)

Place de la Concorde or Viscount Lepic and his Daughters Crossing the Place de la Concorde is an 1876 oil painting by Edgar Degas. It depicts the cigar-smoking Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic, his daughters, his dog, and a solitary man on the left at Place de la Concorde in Paris. The Tuileries Gardens can be seen in the background, behind a stone wall.

Many art historians believe that the large amount of negative space, the cropping, and the way in which the figures are facing in random directions were influenced by photography.

The painting was considered lost for four decades following World War II, until Russian authorities put it on exhibition at the Hermitage Museum in Russia, where it remains to this day. During the Soviet occupation of Germany, the work was confiscated by the Soviets from the collection of German art collector Otto Gerstenberg and eventually moved to the Hermitage.

Degas also painted Ludovic Lepic and His Daughters in a separate painting.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Place de la Concorde (Degas).