Degas made sketches of this composition in a notebook he used during his second stay in Rome in 1857–58. Originally conceived as a depiction of a pensive woman, the picture assumed a mysterious air when Degas added the imaginary Middle Eastern cityscape, the pink flowers, and the two red ibises around 1860–62. About the same time he also considered adding the brilliant birds to his large historical painting Semiramis Building Babylon (Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
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Title:Young Woman with Ibis
Artist:Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Date:1857–58; reworked 1860–62
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:39 3/8 x 29 1/2 in. (100 x 74.9 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Stephen Mazoh and Purchase, Bequest of Gioconda King, by exchange, 2008
the artist, Paris (until d. 1917; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 15–16, 1918, no. 56, for Fr 1,050 to Gérard); [Gérard, Paris, from 1918]; [Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, until 1926; sold August 28, 1926 for Skr 10,000 to Toll]; Paul Toll, Stockholm (1926–68; sale, Sotheby's, London, December 4, 1968, no. 17, for £25,000 to Botton); Mario di Botton, London (1968–at least 1976); William Middendorf, Washington, D.C.; sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 18, 1983, no. 20A, for $100,000, to Mazoh; Stephen Mazoh, New York (1983–2008)
Stockholm. Royal Academy of Fine Arts. "Mitt bästa konstverk: Konst ur Stockholmshem: Utställning till förmån för Rädda barnen," 1941, no. 162 (lent by Paul Toll).
Stockholm. location unknown. "Fransk konst. Utställning: Anordnad i samarbete med Svenska Europahjälpen till förmån för Frankrikes barn," April 13–May 5, 1946, no. 28 (lent by Paul Toll).
Stockholm. Liljevalchs Konsthall. "Cézanne till Picasso: Fransk konst i svensk ägo," September 1954, no. 85 (as "Femme aux oiseaux").
Stockholm. Nationalmuseum. "Fem Sekler Fransk Konst: Miniatyrer, Målningar, Teckningar, 1400–1900," August 15–November 9, 1958, no. 146 (as "Jeune femme et ibis," lent by a private collector, Sweden).
Tokyo. Seibu Museum. "Exposition Degas," September 23–November 3, 1976, no. 6 (lent by a private collection, London).
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Exposition Degas," November 7–December 10, 1976, no. 6.
Fukuoka Art Museum. "Exposition Degas," December 18, 1976–January 16, 1977, no. 6.
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Degas," February 9–May 16, 1988, no. 39.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Degas," June 16–August 28, 1988, no. 39.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 39.
Treviso. Casa dei Carraresi. "La Nascita dell'Impressionismo," September 9, 2000–January 14, 2001, no. 38.
New York. Dahesh Museum of Art. "French Artists in Rome: Ingres to Degas, 1803–1873," September 3–November 2, 2003, unnumbered cat. (as "'Woman on a Terrace,' or 'Young Woman and Ibis'").
Rome. Complesso del Vittoriano. "Degas: Classico e moderno," October 1, 2004–February 1, 2005, no. 6.
Yokohama Museum of Art. "Edgar Degas," September 18–December 31, 2010, no. 15.
Ragnar Hoppe. "Moderna Franska Måstare i Stockholm." Konstrevy (1930), p. 23, ill. p. 15, as in the collection of Paul Toll.
Bo G. Wennberg. Mitt bästa konstverk. Malmö, 1942, p. 109, ill. p. 102.
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 2, pp. 42, 44–45, no. 87, ill., calls it "Femme sur une terrasse (Jeune femme et ibis)" and dates it 1861; tentatively suggests that it may be a study for "Sémiramis Building Babylon" (about 1860–62; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; L82).
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, p. 90, no. 98, ill., dates it 1861.
Theodore Reff. The Notebooks of Edgar Degas: A Catalogue of the Thirty-Eight Notebooks in the Bibliothèque Nationale and Other Collections. Oxford, 1976, vol. 1, pp. 68–69 (notebook 11, pp. 4, 39), p. 93 (notebook 18, p. 24), identifies possible studies for this picture in notebook 11 (November 1857–August 1858) and notebook 18 (1859–64) [reproduced in vol. 2, notebook 11, p. 39; notebook 18, p. 25].
Henri Loyrette. Degas e l'Italia. Exh. cat., Villa Medici. [Rome], 1984, pp. 20–21, 100, 205, fig. 1, notes that it was originally inspired by Hippolyte Flandrin's "Dreaming" (1855; unknown location); identifies a sketch of drapery on the verso of a drawing of a veiled woman (MMA 1980.200) as a study for this picture; comments that the ibis also appear in sketches for "Semiramis Building Babylon" (Orsay) and were added to this picture in order to test the effect of their red hues in a similar composition.
John Russell. "Art: Met Favorites, Outdoors and In." New York Times (July 31, 1987), p. C28, notes that it is on summer loan to the MMA.
Henri Loyrette inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 38, 49, 91, 96–97, no. 39, ill. (color), as "'Woman on a Terrace,' also called 'Young Woman and Ibis'"; dates it 1857–58, during Degas's second stay in Rome, and reworked about 1860–62, while Degas worked on "Semiramis Building Babylon" (Orsay); notes that Degas added the background, flowers, and red ibis after 1858, perhaps at the suggestion of Gustave Moreau; comments that it was sold in 1918 as part of Degas's collection of works by other artists.
Richard Thomson. "The Degas Exhibition at the Grand Palais." Burlington Magazine 130 (April 1988), p. 297.
Richard Thomson. "The Degas Exhibition in Ottawa and New York." Burlington Magazine 131 (April 1989), p. 295 n. 6, suggests the influence of the "Thousand and One Nights".
Frank Milner. Degas. London, 1990, pp. 28–29, ill. (color), as "'Woman on a Terrace' (also called 'Young Woman and Ibis')"; states that the vaguely Middle Eastern setting suggests that the woman may be in a harem; notes that when this picture was first discovered in Degas's studio after his death, it "was believed by many to be by another hand, so different is it from his other work".
Stephen Jones inFrederic Leighton, 1830–1896. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. New York, 1996, p. 59, fig. 33, as "Young Woman and Ibis (Woman on a Terrace)"; dates it 1857–58, reworked 1860–62; compares it to Leighton's "Odalisque" (1862; private collection).
Stephen Jones. "Frederic, Lord Leighton." Magazine Antiques 149 (February 1996), p. 298, colorpl. VI.
Olivier Bonfait and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain. French Artists in Rome: Ingres to Degas, 1803–1873. Ed. Roger Diederen. Exh. cat., Dahesh Museum of Art. New York, 2003, pp. 59, 62, ill. (color), call it "'Woman on a Terrace' or 'Young Woman and Ibis'"; date it 1857–58, reworked about 1860–62.
Bruno Foucart inMaestà di Roma, da Napoleone all'unità d'Italia: D'Ingres à Degas, les artistes français à Rome. Ed. Olivier Bonfait. Exh. cat., Villa Medici, Rome. [Milan], 2003, p. 363, fig. 4.
Paula Marantz Cohen. "Licked But Far from Finished." Times Literary Supplement (October 10, 2003), p. 21.
Michael Kimmelman. "Young, French and Under Rome's Spell." New York Times (September 5, 2003), p. C29, ill. p. C27 (color).
Maria Teresa Benedetti inDegas: Classico e moderno. Ed. Maria Teresa Benedetti. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2004, pp. 192–93, no. 6, ill. (color).
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2008–2010." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (Fall 2010), pp. 56–57, ill. (color).
Philippe Saunier inEdgar Degas. Ed. Philippe Saunier. Exh. cat., Yokohama Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 2010, pp. 46–47, 202, 236, no. 15, ill. (color), compares it to the work of Albert Joseph Moore.
Mary Manning. "Degas's Portrait of Mademoiselle Fiocre and the Orientalism of Modern Life." Rutgers Art Review 30 (2014), pp. 6, 9–11, 13, 17 n. 23, fig. 5, notes that the scarlet ibis Degas depicts was indigenous to South America and the islands off of it and that the artist, therefore, only could have seen them in captivity in Paris.
Zehra Naqvi. "Orientalism Through Degas' Eyes." Asterisk* Journal of Art and Art History 1 (Fall 2020), pp. 30–35, fig. 1 (color), discusses it as a blend of Impressionist technique with Orientalist imagery; contrasts the subject's fully covered clothing, gaze away from the viewer, and outdoor setting with Orientalism's more typically "hypersexualized" female subjects who yield to the intended male viewer in indoor settings; calls the urban background a fictitious Islamic city; notes that Degas probably did not know the differences between the Egyptian and South American ibis.
Degas probably began this painting during his second trip to Rome in October 1857–July 1858, and reworked it in 1860–62. There are three notebook studies (see Reff 1976), another drawing of the drapery (The Met 1980.200, verso), and a nude study of the figure (Degas estate sale IV, no. 108b).
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