Degas: Miss La La and the Cirque Fernando
Degas: Miss La La, and the Cirque Fernando by Linda Wolk-Simon, with contributions by Nancy Ireson and Eveline Baseggio Omiccioli
Published by The Morgan Library & Museum, New York 2013
This soft covered fully illustrated catalog accompanied a Spring 2013 exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, of Degas' painting Miss La La, and the Cirque Fernando. The exhibition examined the story behind this remarkable work in depth. The catalog was written by the curator of the exhibition, Linda Wolk-Simon, with additional contributions by Nancy Ireson and Eveline Baseggio Omiccioli.
For several successive evenings in January 1879, Edgar Degas (1834–1917) attended performances at the Cirque Fernando by one of the most famous circus performers of his time, an aerialist known as Miss La La. For her extraordinary act, Miss La La was slowly hoisted nearly seventy feet into the circus's domed ceiling, suspended solely from a rope clenched between her teeth.
Degas produced a number of studies of the performer and the circus building before creating his celebrated painting, Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando. The exhibition brought together for the first time Degas' remarkable painting, on loan from the National Gallery in London, and a rich array of related material, including and nearly all of the related preparatory drawing pastels, an oil sketch, and a print by the artist, as well as literary, historical, and photographic material of the period.
Also on view were images of the Cirque Fernando by Degas's contemporaries, photographs of Miss La La and her troupe, and posters and other printed material.
The catalog also presents biographical and historical findings about Miss La La and her troupe, and a revealing discussion about the popularity of the circus as a venue for artists in Paris in the last decades of the nineteenth century.