Count Lepic and His Daughters, 1871 by Edgar Degas

The gentleman in this picture, Vicomte Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic (1839-1889), was a member of a Napoleonic aristocratic family and dedicated dabbler in many pursuits. Though art was one of them, he and Degas initially met through social, not artistic circles. (Degas, too, was "well-connected," as they say.) The Vicomte ended up starring in at least four canvases by his friend, and was persuaded by the same to exhibit in the first two Impressionist Salons. History has, alas, proved Lepic a better subject than painter.

Degas has here turned out a thoroughly Impressionistic canvas. It was clearly executed very quickly - the oils nearly resemble watercolors (including some muddy areas), the Vicomte's face has a hasty feel and the whole thing looks more a sketch than a finished composition.