The Milliners

Object Details


The Milliners


Edgar Degas (French, 1834 - 1917)




about 1882 - before 1905


Oil on canvas


59.1 x 72.4 cm (23 1/4 x 28 1/2 in.)

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Two milliners sit at a dramatically angled worktable, their bodies partly obscured by the shadowed hat stands that crowd their work space. Seen as little more than a silhouette, the figure at right works carefully on a hat. Her attentiveness is not shared by her older counterpart who, though grasping a swath of pink fabric, appears lost in thought, gazing beyond the frame with a disquieting expression. The brightly colored ribbons--pink, yellow, orange, and green--draw attention to the drabness of the room and its inhabitants.

Over the course of about thirty years, Edgar Degas produced more than twenty paintings, pastels, and drawings of millinery shops. Among modern painters, Degas alone depicted this subject matter with such frequency. His voyeuristic yet empathetic portrait of the milliner's private world focuses on the physical hardship of their work. The woman at the left embodies the painter's concern; even at rest, her wiry body and pallid skin registers a life of hard work and meager reward.

- 1918

Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917 [sold, Degas sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 6-8, 1918, lot 109, to Jacques Seligmann]

1918 - 1921

Jacques Seligmann, 1858 - 1923 [sold, Seligmann sale, American Art Association, New York, January 21, 1921, lot 28, to Josse Bernheim]

1921 -

Josse Bernheim, 1870 - 1941

by 1933 - 1939

Ambroise Vollard, 1867 - 1939, by inheritance to his mistress, Madame de Galea, 1939.

1939 - 1945

Madame de Galea, died 1945, by inheritance to her son, Robert de Galea, 1945.

1945 -

Robert de Galea, by inheritance to his son, Christian de Galea.

- 2004

Christian de Galea

2004 - 2005

Acquavella Galleries, Inc., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005.

Paintings from the Ambroise Vollard Collection, XIX-XX Centuries / Exhibition of French Art, XIX-XX Centuries: Paintings from the Ambroise Vollard Collection (1933 to 1934) (Cat. 18 / 17)
  • Knoedler & Company, (New York), 1933
  • Arts and Craft Club of Detroit, 1934
Degas at the Getty (March 7 to June 11, 2006) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 7 to June 11, 2006
Degas' Method (June 6, 2013 to September 1, 2013) (Cat. 64)
  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, (Copenhagen), June 6 to September 1, 2013
Related Media
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    Audio: The Milliners, feat. Charlotte Eyerman