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Edgar Degas was the only important French painter of the Impressionist generation to travel to the United States and make paintings of American subject matter. Degas himself grew up in France, but his mother was Creole and born in New Orleans, and he often called himself a “fils de Louisiane,” or a “son of Louisiana.” Degas lived in New Orleans for five months during the fall of 1872, visiting a large network of close relatives and friends. When Degas arrived in New Orleans, he encountered a city in throws of post-Civil War Reconstruction, and made a series of paintings that captured the turmoil of the time. Degas likely created this portrait of his blind sister-in-law Estelle Musson Degas in part to reconcile himself to his own failing eyesight, but the portrait also captures the rapidly fading way of life of the city’s French-speaking Creole inhabitants, who were increasingly being pushed aside by a wave of new English-speaking “American” settlers.

Details

  • Title: Portrait of Estelle Musson Degas
  • Creator: Edgar Degas
  • Date Created: 1872
  • Physical Dimensions: framed: 48 x 63 in (121.92 x 160.02 cm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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