To many collectors it might seem that any gallery which seeks to connect one of the founders of impressionsim, the great Edgar Degas (1834 - 1927(), with what we term the Northern School is showing remarkable chutzpah. To further seek to show that this connection forms an anchor that allows us to attempt to define a northern school is, on the face of it, wildly ambitious.
The influence of Degas is both subtle, but also direct by influence. Degas employed an agent in Manchester solely to target the wealthy collectors of the city. He was also perhaps the career defining influence on his follower. Walter Sickert, who married into one of Lancashire's finest families and who briefly came to the city in the 1920s to found what the newspapers of the time called "The Manchester School".
Whilst here, Sickert came across his most talented pupil, Harry Rutherford, who was later to teach the young Geoffrey Key and a host of other artists.
Today, an artist such as Ghislaine Howard paints with the ghosts of Degas and Sickert on her shoulders and it is fitting that one of the centrepieces of this exhibition is "The Degasists", referencing the 1987 Whitworth exhibition, "The Private Degas", and itself exhibited at the Whitworth.