The Belleli Family, a portrait of a family created by Edgar Degas in his mid-twenties, who is well-recognized for his ballerinas, horse racing, and paintings of the Paris social scene. This Edgar Degas painting was not shown publicly until when all people in it were no longer living. By using clean lines, light and dark skill in a creative approach, Degas was able to combine the beautiful ideals and the reality as a whole in his paintings. This is one of the most thought-provoking family portraits this talented portrait painter ever painted.
It’s a portrait of Degas’ aunt, her husband, an Italian baron and their two daughters in this portrait. His aunt is in black whose countenance is dignified and austere, showing her insufferable arrogance and defiance. Her arms rest around the shoulder of her older daughter who is seemingly well-behaved in contrast to her younger daughter sitting on a chair apart from her mother, holding a livelier pose. Then is her husband, who sits in a black armchair with his back to us and his profiled face in shadow. By using a table leg, Degas separated the man from other family members. We can find that Mrs. Belleli refuses to meet her husband’s gaze for the reason that he had no steady job and had been exiled from his native Naples for his political activities.
This realism painting shows the strained and dysfunctional family relationship, all the characters were portrayed meticulously, arousing a profound respect which is so deep that makes the painting lacking of the life force and leaves no space for artistic appeal.