It's not realistic to expect this show to provide a comprehensive view of Degas and his accomplishment — there are some 1200 known Degas paintings, most of them held by museums around the world. To know Degas you need to visit the paintings. There is much of interest here, though, and moments that are pure Degas. One is the black crayon drawing "Sabine Neyt, The Artist's Housekeeper." There's just the head, hands, and a simple outline, but the piece has the personality and position characteristic of Degas's method.

The special treat here is a group of works on paper by his circle of friends. These include some well-known figures like Walter Sickert, Gustave Moreau, and Camille Pissarro as well as artists rarely seen like Alphonse Legros and Mortimer Menpes. Look especially for a favorite, the little Manet etching of Charles Baudelaire.

Ken Greenleaf can be reached at  ken.greenleaf@gmail.com.

"DEGAS: THE PRIVATE IMPRESSIONIST" | Through May 21 | at the Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq, Portland | 207.775.6148 |  portlandmuseum.org

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