At the Café Châteaudun

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This is an early example of Degas’s cafe or cafe-concert scenes. Cafes were an important part of Parisian social life, and also provided artists with a rich source of visual spectacle, characters and ‘types’. Two men seated at a corner table examine a newspaper. The figure facing us points to an article, which he reads through a small magnifying glass. His wrist is clasped by his older, monocle-wearing companion. The exact nature of their interaction is unclear, but Degas seems particularly interested in their gestures. This small picture is essentially a drawing on cream-coloured wove paper (mounted on canvas), which has been coloured in with essence. This is oil paint from which most of the oil has been removed with blotting paper, diluted with turpentine to give the effect of watercolour.

The National Gallery, London



At the Café Châteaudun


about 1869-71


Pencil and oil (essence) on paper, mounted on canvas


H 23.7 x W 19 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Mr and Mrs Charles Wilmers, 1991

Work type



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Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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