Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Mademoiselle Marie Dihau (1843–1935)

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Oil on canvas
8 3/4 x 10 3/4 in. (22.2 x 27.3 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 815
Marie Dihau was a successful pianist and singer who lived in Lille but often came to Paris to perform. She recalled that Degas executed this portrait quickly at a restaurant. Shown in sharp profile, wedged between the remnants of a finished meal and a carpetbag, the sitter—a traveling musician whom Degas typically caught on the run—effectively makes a cameo appearance in this compelling character study. 

Her brother Désiré, a bassoonist for the Paris Opéra, is the second figure from the left in Degas’s The Ballet from Robert le Diable (29.100.552).
the sitter, Marie Dihau, Paris (until 1922; sold on July 19, 1922, for Fr 35,000 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1922; stock no. 12052; sold on November 2, 1922 to Durand-Ruel, New York]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1922–23; stock no. 4765; sold on January 16, 1923 to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Lousine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1923–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 115)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 53 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 107].

Boston. Institute of Modern Art. "France Forever," November 23–December 8, 1943, no catalogue.

Newark Museum. "19th-Century French and American Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 9–May 15, 1946, no. 14.

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. "Six Centuries of Headdress," April 3–May 1, 1955, no. 18.

San Antonio. Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute. "Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture by Edgar Degas," October 16–November 13, 1955, no catalogue?

South Hadley, Mass. Dwight Art Memorial. "French and American Impressionism," October 5–November 4, 1956, no. 9.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 7 (of paintings).

Richmond. Virginia Museum. "Degas," May 23–July 9, 1978, no. 3.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A198.

Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "L'Impressionnisme et la Mode," September 25, 2012–January 20, 2013, no. 158.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity," February 26–May 7, 2013, no. 116.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity," June 26–September 29, 2013, no. 116.

"The H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Parnassus 2 (March 1930), p. 7.

H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 115.

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. 2, pp. 88–89, 126, no. 172, ill., dates it about 1867–68; relates that according to Mlle Dihau, this picture was executed rapidly at the restaurant of Mère Lefebvre as consolation for one of her many departures from Paris for Lille, alluded to by the inclusion of her travelling bag; notes that Degas met several musicians from the Opéra at Mère Lefebvre's restaurant.

Marcel Guérin, ed. Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas: Letters. Oxford, 1947, p. 260.

Pierre Cabanne. Edgar Degas. Paris, [1957], p. 96 [English ed., 1958].

Jean Sutherland Boggs. Portraits by Degas. Berkeley, 1962, pp. 106, 116, dates it 1868.

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, pp. 61–62, ill.

Fiorella Minervino in L'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, pp. 96–98, no. 235, ill.

Norma Broude. "Degas's 'Misogyny'." Art Bulletin 59 (March 1977), p. 101.

Charles S. Moffett. Degas: Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, pp. 7, 9, 15 n. 11, colorpl. 10, calls it a "very private and telling view of another artist".

Ian Dunlop. Degas. New York, 1979, pp. 77, 198.

Charles F. Stuckey in Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings. Ed. Charles F. Stuckey. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1979, p. 157, asserts that this portrait must be the one which Toulouse-Lautrec supposedly praised as "primitive".

Michael Wentworth. "Energized Punctuality: James Tissot's 'Gentleman in a Railway Carriage'." Worcester Art Museum Journal 3 (1979–80), pp. 17–18, 26 n. 24, fig. 8, suggests that this picture may have influenced Tissot's "Gentleman in a Railway Carriage" (1871–72; Worcester Art Museum).

Eugénie de Keyser. Degas: Réalité et métaphore. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1981, p. 94, observes that the objects Degas included in his portraits allude to memories and emotions that he shared with his sitters, noting a certain melancholy conveyed by the large travelling bag in this picture.

Roy McMullen. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston, 1984, p. 175.

Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 53, 55, 69, 250, ill. (color).

Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, p. 240, pl. 167, asserts that Mrs. Havemeyer preferred such "penetrating studies of personality and mood . . . above all else".

Henri Loyrette in Degas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, p. 161.

Colta Ives. "French Prints in the Era of Impressionism and Symbolism." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 46 (Summer 1988), p. 15, ill. p. 14 (color), cites it as an example of how attuned Degas was to the accessories of modern women's dress.

Henri Loyrette. Degas. Paris, 1991, pp. 216–17, asserts that Désiré and Marie Dihau commissioned their portraits from Degas.

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, 337 n. 376.

Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 280, 285, pl. 277.

Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 325, no. A198, ill. p. 326.

Jean Sutherland Boggs in Degas Portraits. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. London, 1994, pp. 18, 35 n. 11, states that it was a gift from Degas to the sitter.

Gioia Mori in Degas: Classico e moderno. Ed. Maria Teresa Benedetti. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2004, p. 90.

Richard R. Brettell and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. Ed. Sara Campbell. Vol. 1, New Haven, 2006, p. 390, fig. 101c.

Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall. Degas & Music. Exh. cat., Hyde Collection. Glens Falls, N. Y., 2009, p. 64.

Gloria Groom in Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity. Ed. Gloria Groom. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Chicago, 2012, p. 231, ill. p. 230 (color) [French ed., "L'Impressionnisme et la Mode," Paris, 2012, p. 244, ill. p. 233 (color)], notes that the profile view accentuates her anonymity.

Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity. Ed. Gloria Groom. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Chicago, 2012, p. 284, no. 116, ill. (color) [French ed., "L'Impressionnisme et la Mode," Paris, 2012, p. 299, no. 158].

Isabelle Graw. "'Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity'." Artforum 52 (December 2013), p. 223, ill. (color), notes that it anticipates the significance of the accessory in the early twenty-first century.

Marie Dihau was a pianist and singer who often performed in Paris at the Colonne and the Lamoureux concerts. With her brother Désiré, who played the bassoon in the orchestra at the Opéra, she belonged to the music-loving circle of Degas and his father. Around 1867–68, when this portrait is thought to have been painted, she was dividing her time between Lille and Paris. She used to tell how Degas made this picture of her with her traveling bag as a consolation gift on one of her departures from Paris. It was done rapidly, its background left unfinished, in the restaurant of Mère Lefebvre in the rue de la Tour d'Auvergne. A few years later Degas painted her again, seated at the piano (Musée d'Orsay, Paris). After the war in 1870 Mlle Dihau settled in Paris with her brother Désiré and it was at their house that Toulouse-Lautrec, their cousin, was introduced to Degas. In 1890 he too painted her portrait at the piano (Musée d'Albi).
Related Objects

Seated Dancer

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris) Date: 1873–74 Medium: Graphite and charcoal heightened with white on pink wove paper;squared for transfer Accession: 29.100.942 On view in:Not on view

Little Girl Practicing at the Bar

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris) Date: ca. 1878–80 Medium: Black chalk and graphite, heightened with white chalk on pink laid paper Accession: 29.100.943 On view in:Not on view

Dancer Adjusting Her Slipper

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris) Date: 1873 Medium: Graphite heightened with black and white chalk on pink wove paper (now faded); squared for transfer Accession: 29.100.941 On view in:Not on view

Study of a Girl's Legs for the painting "Young Spartans"

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris) Date: ca. 1860–62 Medium: Black chalk Accession: 1992.360 On view in:Not on view

Actresses in Their Dressing Rooms

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris) Date: 1879–80 Medium: Etching and aquatint; fourth state of five Accession: 29.107.51 On view in:Not on view