This small portrait appears to be a rapidly executed study of mood and figure type. Degas, who was closely attuned to the nuances of gesture and expression, focused on capturing the woman’s contemplative gaze, treating her costume and the background in a more summary fashion.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): D
Mary Cassatt, Paris (by 1917; deposited with Durand-Ruel, Paris, March 8, 1918–May 9, 1919; deposit no. 11923; offered in a letter of December 28, 1917 with two other Degases [29.100.41 and 29.100.555] for $ 20,000 to Havemeyer); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (by 1919–d. 1929; shipped to her by Durand-Ruel, May 9, 1919; cat., 1931, p. 116)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 11–November 2, 1930, no. 51 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 109].
Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Nineteenth Century French Painting: Eighth Anniversary Exhibition of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts," January 19–February 20, 1944, no. 23.
New York. American Federation of the Arts. "European Portraiture from the 17th to 19th Century (circulating exhibition)," September 1954–September 1957, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 17 (of paintings).
Richmond. Virginia Museum. "Degas," May 23–July 9, 1978, no. 15.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A240.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Degas/Cassatt," May 11–October 5, 2014, no. 62.
Mary Cassatt. Letter to Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer. December 28,  [published in Nancy Mowll Mathews, ed., "Cassatt and Her Circle, Selected Letters," New York, 1984, p. 330), offers to sell Mrs. Havemeyer three works by Degas [this painting, a fan (29.100.555), and a pastel (29.100.41)] for $20,000.
"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. 116, as "Buste de jeune femme".
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 3, pp. 498–99, no. 861, ill., as "Portrait de jeune femme"; dates it about 1885 and calls it a replica of a pastel (formerly collection Dr. Edouard Mollard, Paris; present location unknown; L860).
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. 83–84, ill., note that the unidentified sitter may also be represented in a pastel (about 1885; L860; sold Christie's, New York, May 7, 2003, no. 12) and an oil sketch (about 1875; L370; collection A. S. Henraux, Paris).
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, pp. 115–16, no. 639, ill.
Charles S. Moffett. Degas: Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, pp. 7–9, colorpl. 11, notes that it was rapidly executed.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, p. 238.
Michael Pantazzi inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, p. 324.
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, p. 342 n. 429.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 273–74, 285.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 331, 335, no. A240, ill. p. 334.
Impressionist and Modern Art: Evening Sale. Christie's, New York. May 7, 2003, p. 36, under no. 12, fig. 1, identifies the woman as the same portrayed in the pastel (L860).
Kimberly A. Jones. Degas/Cassatt. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2014, p. 156, no. 62, colorpl. 62.