French artist, Edgar Degas, manifested a multitude of different styles throughout his career. French artists throughout history often held a strong relationship with the style of Italian art. Edgar Degas felt a calling towards Italian art through the different techniques and styles that were illustrated. Degas admired the works of Leonardo da Vinci and master Primaticcio. These artists inspired Degas to seek a Franco-Italian collaboration within is work, mixing his classic Parisian style with the prominent artworks of Italian history.
Within this period of artistic curiosity, an array of young artists within the seventeenth century travelled to Rome to study the forms of Italian art. Along these inspired painters was Edgar Degas. The art scene in Rome offered these artists a new style to seek in romantic illusions and beautiful dreams. Degas spent some of his time studying the different art forms that seized Italy at the time as he attempted to re-sketch classic artworks. Yet, while young artists awed the beautiful styles of artists who had already passed, the new style that was seizing Italy were the two new genres of historical paintings and landscapes. Degas neither found interest in illustrating Napoleon Wars or the bodies of water in Venice and instead focused on intertwining his French style into the Italian techniques he picked up.
These events inspired Degas to create the double portrait of Giovanna and Giulia Bellelli. The two young woman are seated away from one another as they focus on an object within the distance. The artwork illustrates the principles of form, while showcasing the classic style of renaissance painting. The young woman on the left is dressed in a long black dress covering her arms and glaring out into a large white ruffle. Around her neck a white collar meets a thin black necklace. Near the waist of the woman, a belt holds her attire in place. The woman is seated upright, yet slightly slouching, with her hands meeting one another placed gently on her lap. Her pose seems forced as she is aware that she is being painted and stares at the artist. Her sharp glare meets the gaze of the viewer.
Degas exposes the woman's face in a rounded edge while adding rosy cheeks, giving her a youthful glow. Her light brown hair is tied up, gently flowing back. The girl to her left is seated in the exact same position, yet her face is turned to the side seized by an object. The girl’s hair is styled similarly to her companion's, yet instead of a rich coffee colour. Her face holds a paler tone, as her characteristics are lightly smudged. It is unknown whether Degas had purposely blurred her face, or if time had erased her characteristics.
The girl with the darker hair is dressed in a burgundy attire flowing towards the floor. Her neck is covered in a white collar, accentuated by a black ribbon falling upon her chest. A black and golden belt fasten her dress along her waist, while her bright earrings add a spec of wealth to the ensemble. Both women pose for Degas while the artist enters a new style of art paying tribute to the historical genres of Italian artistry. The background is remained simple to not draw attention from the young women, yet still holds an elegant feel through stripes of brown wallpaper. The impressionist painting is a classic transformational piece within Edgar Degas's work.