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Degas painting

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The "Degas" painting was not actually painted by Edgar Degas, but was a fake, painted by Pablo Picasso in 1908, after Picasso boasted that he could do Degas-caliber work just as well as Degas could.

Using Fernande Olivier as his nude model, and getting some assistance from Georges Braque, Picasso chalked out a rough image while Norman Rockwell and Indiana Jones watched. Then, he painted the final version from memory, in the way that Degas would. Finishing the work, he showed it off to his guests.

An evening later, at a party for Henri Rousseau, Kahnweiler admired the painting and offered to buy it from Picasso, who agreed to the sale on the condition that he be present when Degas came to sign it. The next day at Le Lapin Agile, Kahnweiler and Picasso met Degas. Degas initially didn't recognize the painting, but with Picasso's coaxing, agreed to sign it. Jones helped Degas steady his hand to find the brush to sign the painting, and Degas mentioned to Jones that the painting's pigments didn't smell like his own pigments. After Degas signed his name, Picasso claimed credit for the forgery, saying that he had fooled Degas.

After his friends refused to back him up in taking credit, Picasso backed down from his claim, to allow Degas some dignity. Jones offered to sell Kahnweiler his Picasso drawing, which led Picasso into the same trap that he had set for Degas. Kahnweiler left with his two purchases, not knowing that they were both fakes done by other gifted artists.

Years later, while at an art auction, the Degas painting was offered for sale again, and Jones was in the audience, and recounted the story of the true artist to those seated around him.


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