Something, perhaps, he was uniquely able to do among his colleagues, because of his total commitment to the drawn line.
It was another aspect of his art, beyond his practice of being studio-based, which differentiated him from the rest of the Café Guerbois crowd.
He had met the traditionally minded artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – Delacroix’s old foe – in his early twenties, an event that taught him the pre-eminence of drawing in composition.
It was a lesson Degas would never forget.
He became an excellent draughtsman, who now belongs in the rarefied company of Picasso and Matisse in the small, exclusive club of modern masters who could draw like old masters.
It was the outstanding feature of his painting Carriage at the Races. Both composition (dramatic) and colour (vivid and expertly handled) are excellent, but the draughtsmanship is exquisite.
Even the acerbic critics who reviewed the exhibition had to admit that Degas could draw (sadly Leroy made no comment).
He was congratulated on the precision of his drawing, the accuracy of his execution, and the sureness of his hand.
In Degas maybe the critics saw some hope; that the art of the old masters could be successfully united with the art of the avant-garde
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.