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Fact of the day
How Edgar Degas destroyed the reputation of a famous actress
Ellen Andrée is a famous Parisian actress who performed in the Palais-Royal and in the bar at the Folies-Bergère. She was a model for Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas; she also spent time with the artists and poets in the café New Athens, which was unprecedented audacity for the time. Ladies could visit drinking establishments only accompanied.
The painting L'Absinthe, for which Andrée posed together with the artist Marcellin Desboutin, also negatively affected her reputation. It caused a big fuss; the painting was called disgusting and immoral, they saw a challenge in it and, of course, suspected models of heavy drinking. Edgar Degas had to make an official statement that neither Ellen, nor Marcellin was an alcoholic – they just perfectly played their roles. To make up for such a blow to her reputation, Degas even offered Ellen one of his works as a gift.
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