Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Joseph-Henri Altès (1826–1895)

Artist:
Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Date:
1868
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (25.1 x 20 cm); with added strips 10 5/8 x 8 1/2 in. (27 x 21.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.181
Not on view
This profile view of the first flutist and concertmaster of the Paris Opéra, Joseph-Henri Altès, is one of Degas's many portraits of musicians. As a "little joke," Lousine Havemeyer, who originally owned the painting, hung it between two Renaissance portraits and was quite pleased to find that "the modern master held his own."
Inscription: Signed (upper left): Degas
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1902–3; stock no. 7200; bought from the artist on December 11, 1902, for Fr 4,000; sold on February 12, 1903 to Durand-Ruel, New York]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1903; stock no. 2876; sold on March 4, 1903, possibly for $ 2,000 (Fr 10,000) to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1903–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 116)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 11–November 2, 1930, no. 49 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 106].

Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Degas's Portraits of his Family and Friends," March 6–28, 1948, unnum. checklist.

Birmingham, Ala. Birmingham Museum of Art. "Festival of the Seven Arts," January 25–February 22, 1953, no catalogue.

Waterville, Maine. Women's Union, Colby College. April 6–27, 1954, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 8 (of paintings).

Richmond. Virginia Museum. "Degas," May 23–July 9, 1978, no. 4.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A199.

Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 36.

Glen Falls, N. Y. Hyde Collection. "Degas & Music," July 12–October 18, 2009, no. 7.

Georges Grappe. Edgar Degas. Berlin, [1908], ill. p. 8, as "Portrait Mr. Altès".

Paul Lafond. Degas. Vol. 1, Paris, 1918, ill. p. 31.

Paul Lafond. Degas. Vol. 2, Paris, 1919, p. 13.

H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 116, calls it "Portrait of M. Altès" and dates it 1868.

Louise Burroughs. "Degas in the Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (May 1932), p. 144.

Agnes Mongan. "Degas as Seen in American Collections." Burlington Magazine 72 (June 1938), p. 296.

P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 1, p. 54; vol. 2, pp. 90–91, no. 176, ill.

Pierre Cabanne. Edgar Degas. Paris, [1957], pp. 96, 109, under no. 38 [English ed., 1958, pp. 96, 110, under no. 38].

Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, pp. 262–63, describes her "little joke" when she hung this picture in her gallery: "it consisted in placing a Degas portrait between one by Clouet and one by Corneille de Lyon, and the great modern held his own between those of the Renaissance".

Jean Sutherland Boggs. Portraits by Degas. Berkeley, 1962, p. 92 n. 40.

Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, p. 65, ill.

Fiorella Minervino in L'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, pp. 96–97, no. 239, ill.

Charles S. Moffett and Elizabeth Streicher. "Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer as Collectors of Degas." Nineteenth Century 3 (Spring 1977), p. 25, fig. 3.

Charles S. Moffett. Degas: Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, pp. 7–9, 15 n. 13, colorpl. 4, asserts that in this picture Degas "undoubtedly meant to convey" similarities with Renaissance portraits; also sees the influence of Holbein's portraits in profile.

Ronald Pickvance. Edgar Degas: 1834–1917. Exh. cat., David Carritt. London, 1983, p. [2].

Roy McMullen. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston, 1984, pp. 174–75, sees the influence of Pisanello in this picture.

Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 61, 250, ill. (color), notes that Degas depicts Altès "from the side not normally seen by the audience. It is, so to speak, his private side".

Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, p. 147.

Henri Loyrette in Degas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 148, 161, 170, 178.

Henri Loyrette. Degas. Paris, 1991, pp. 218, 241, 243, 598, 614, 790 n. 287.

Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 257, 262–63, 337 n. 376, p. 339 n. 392.

Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 232, 285, colorpl. 228.

Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 325, no. A199, ill. p. 326.

Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall. Degas & Music. Exh. cat., Hyde Collection. Glens Falls, N. Y., 2009, pp. 63–64, 130, no. 7, fig. 18 (color).



Altès was a flutist who became concert master in the orchestra of the Paris Opera. He also taught at the Conservatory. Degas painted another portrait of him in L'Orchestre de l'Opéra (L186; Musée d'Orsay, Paris), where he is shown between the bassoonist Dihau and Gouffé, who played the double bass.
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