Open navigation
Exploring Friendship
Click to activate zoom Close

Exploring Friendship

in 19th Century France

Read introduction

This resource is inspired a major exhibition of Degas’ work at The Fitzwilliam Museum and draws on a University of Cambridge research project examining the cultural history of friendship in Nineteenth Century France. It has been designed to help students develop their own research skills through the analysis of fine art and literature.


This AHRC funded project had its origins in the nineteenth-century research and teaching group of the French Section in the Cambridge European Languages Faculty (the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics) at the University of Cambridge. The Principal Investigator, Nicholas White, designed the project with Andrew Counter, and they have co-edited the subsequent collection of essays to which colleagues from the group, Edmund Birch and Claire White, contributed. As the project unfolded, its literary and historical perspective widened, as it became clear that it could dovetail with the Fitzwilliam Museum’s exhibition on 'Degas: Passion for Perfection', curated by Jane Munro, which brought into focus the question of how a necessarily silent visual image such as Au Café might address issues of friendship, sociability, language and conversation. Another member of the nineteenth-century French group, Rebecca Sugden, has worked with Kate Noble of the Museum’s Education Department to create this resource and to think about how these research questions could be applied to other texts and images, in and beyond nineteenth-century France.

Images copyright of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge