Degas and the Dreyfus Affair: A Portrait of the Artist as an Anti-Semite.
Anti-Semitism is a free and total choice of oneself, a comprehensive attitude that one adopts not only toward Jews but toward men in general, toward history and society; it is at one and the same time a passion and a conception of the world.
-- JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, Anti-Semite and Jew
At the time of the Dreyfus Affair, many members of the artistic avantgarde took sides: Monet and Pissarro, with their old friend and supporter Zola, were pro-Dreyfusard, as were the younger radical artists Luce, Signac, and Vallotton and the American Mary Cassatt; Cézanne, Rodin, Renoir, and Degas were anti-Dreyfus. Monet, who had been out of touch with Zola for several years, nevertheless wrote to his old friend two days after the appearance of "J'Accuse" to congratulate him for his valor and his courage; on January 18, Monet signed the so-called Manifesto of the Intellectuals on Dreyfus's behalf.1 Despite the fact that at the outset of the Affair many anarchists were unfavorably disposed toward Dreyfus--an army officer and wealthy to boot--Pissarro, who was an ardent anarchist, nevertheless quickly became convinced of his innocence. He too wrote to Zola after the appearance of "J'Accuse," to congratulate him for his "great courage" and "nobility of . . . character," signing the letter "Your old