The Artist's Cousin, Probably Mrs. William Bell (Mathilde Musson, 1841–1878)

Edgar Degas French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 817

The sitter for this likeness is thought to be Mathilde Musson, one of Degas’s cousins in New Orleans. Degas made a number of pictures featuring Mathilde and her two sisters when he visited the family during the fall and winter of 1872–73. The women can be difficult to tell apart, but the tilt of the head and the intelligent, sidelong gaze seen here closely resemble the figure of Mathilde in another, more finished pastel (Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen). Mathilde was then a new mother, and the artist complained, "to make a cousin sit for you who is feeding an imp of two months is quite hard work."

The Artist's Cousin, Probably Mrs. William Bell (Mathilde Musson, 1841–1878), Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris), Pastel on green wove paper, now darkened to brown

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