Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade
February 12–May 7, 2017
Main Exhibition Galleries, East Building

Degas Exhibition from February 12-May 7, 2017
"...this groundbreaking exhibition reveals a compelling and until now less widely known side of this essential Impressionist..."
Wall Street Journal

"..this innovative show explores the period’s artistic fascination with high-fashion hats and the industry that made them."
New York Times

Through a groundbreaking exploration of Edgar Degas' fascination with high-fashion hats and the young women who made them, Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade features an array of period hats and 60 paintings and pastels, including key works by Degas that have never been exhibited in the United States.

Organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the exhibition is the first to examine a crucial and little-known area of Degas' decades-long study of Parisian modern life in the midst of a remarkable golden age in millinery production. Degas' output during this period is presented within the context of the work of his fellow Impressionists who were also fascinated by the intricate and extravagant creations of the milliners who inspired them, including Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The exhibition also features hats which reveal the innate sense of design and mastery of materials of the greatest milliners of the period such as Caroline Reboux, Madame Georgette, and Jeanne Lanvin.

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade is curated by Simon Kelly, the Museum's curator of modern and contemporary art, and Esther Bell, curator-in-charge of European painting at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Christie's. The St. Louis presentation is generously supported by the William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

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William T. Kemper Foundation, ArtWorks, NEA, Christie's and Missouri Art Council Logos - Exhibition Sponsors
Degas Self-Portrait
Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917; Self-Portrait in the Soft Hat, 1857; oil on paper mounted on canvas; 10 ¼ x 7 ½ inches; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA
  • Free for Members
  • $15 for adults
  • $13 for seniors and students
  • $6 for children ages 6 to 12
  • Children 5 and under are free
  • Free on Fridays

Last ticket entry on Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday is 4 pm.
Last ticket entry on Friday is 8 pm.

Advance tickets are not required, but are strongly recommended for best availability, especially on Fridays when tickets are free. Tickets cannot be obtained by calling the Museum directly. Tickets are only available in person at the Museum's Information Centers, online through MetroTix, or by phone at 314.534.1111. Tickets purchased or reserved through MetroTix incur a service charge; the service charge is waived for tickets reserved at the Museum. Advance tickets for Fridays are limited to 6 tickets per person. All tickets, including tickets for Free Fridays, are issued for a specific date and time.

Audio Commentary

Visit slam.org/audio and use your mobile device to access lively expert commentary on selected works by exhibition curator, Simon Kelly, research assistant, Abigail Yoder, and curator of birds at the St. Louis Zoo, Michael Macek. A limited number of iPads are available for use from the Taylor Hall Information Center.

Accessible Content

Large print labels and an Audio Tour Transcript for Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade are available on your own device or on a Museum iPad available at the Taylor Hall Information Center.

Complimentary Docent Tours

Take a docent-led tour of the exhibition with your ticketed entry Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1:15 pm beginning March 1 through April 29. Docent tours meet outside the Main Exhibition Galleries in the East Building. Space is limited and early arrival is advised. Tours will not be available the week of February 12, the week of April 30, and during the Museum's Art in Bloom festival due to anticipated crowds.

Group Tours

Guided tours of the exhibition for 10 or more participants are available and must be scheduled online in advance. Requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Please allow at least four weeks advance notice. Group tours are not available on Fridays.

The last entry to Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade is one hour before the Museum closes.

Front Cover of the Degas Catalog

Exhibition Catalogue

A fully illustrated, color catalog with an introductory essay by Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, will be available for purchase in the Museum Shops.


After visiting the exhibition, stop by either Museum Shop location and explore merchandise inspired by the exhibition. Members save 10 percent!

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec Painting of M. Delaporte at the Jardin de Paris
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec, French, 1864-1917; M. Delaporte at the Jardin de Paris, c. 1893; gauache on cardboard, glued to wood; 29 15/16 x 27 9/16 inches; Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Photo: Ole Haupt
All events in The Farrell Auditorium, including free events, are ticketed.
Tickets to the exhibition and related programs may be purchased or reserved in person at the Museum’s Information Centers or through MetroTix at metrotix.com or 314.534.1111. All tickets purchased or reserved through MetroTix incur a service charge; the service charge is waived for tickets purchased or reserved at the Museum. Same day tickets, if available, can be obtained on-site only.

Family Sunday

Sunday, February 12, noon–4 pm
Welcome to France
Bring the entire family to the Museum to mark the opening of the exhibition. Join in with flash French lessons, learn about the feathers used by French hat makers, and design a stylish chapeau. Family Sundays are free and occur in Grigg Gallery.

Mary Strauss Women in the Arts Lecture

Friday, March 3, 7 pm
Working Girls: The Milliners of Nineteenth–Century Paris
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, art historian
In celebration of Women’s History Month, join us to learn about the milliners who created the hats that fascinated Degas and his Impressionist circle. This free program is made possible by the Mary Strauss Women in the Arts Endowment and is held in The Farrell Auditorium. A ticket is required for entry.

Triptych: A Tour of Modern Paris in Three Parts

March 25, 2017, 9 am–1:30 pm
This spring, three exciting exhibitions in St. Louis showcase the ways in which photographs, fashion, posters, and sculptures capture the nightlife and cultural values of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Paris. Join the exhibition curators on a three-part tour of Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade, Spectacle and Leisure in Paris: Degas to Mucha, and Medardo Rosso: Experiments in Light and Form. Lunch with the curators follows the tour.
Register with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation at programs@pulitzerarts.org. Click here for additional details.
$20 adults / $10 students

Family Sundays

Sunday, April 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 1-4 pm
Degas Days
Explore the sensational works of Edgar Degas and the French Impressionists. Visit the Museum's galleries to view innovative artwork by Impressionist painters and experiment with movement, color, and composition to create your own creative masterpiece.

Sunday, April 9, 2 pm
Special performance: Degas in Motion
Enjoy a special ballet performance featuring the Dance Center of Kirkwood in the Museum's Farrell Auditorium. Stick around after the performance for a question and answer session with the dancers. Free.

Saint Louis Art Museum and Zoo Collaborative Programs

In collaboration with the Saint Louis Zoo, we are offering an educational opportunity to discover the beautiful art of Edgar Degas, the Paris millinery trade, and how the world bird populations were impacted. This program includes a guided walking tour at both facilities.

Saturday, April 15, 9:30-11:30 am
The Secret Life of Birds
Enjoy a birdwatching experience that will take you from the galleries to the nature trails. Observe the exciting spring bird migration with a 2-mile round-trip hike through Kennedy Forest followed by a guided tour of Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade. For participants 18 years and up.
$22 General/ $20 Museum and Zoo Members
Limited to 20 participants
Register here

Symposium *

Friday, April 21, 5–9 pm
Saturday, April 22, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

This symposium will examine millinery as a key subject for Edgar Degas and his Impressionist circle, situating their images of hat-makers, shoppers, and hats within wider historical contexts of developing fashion, changing attitudes to women, and shifting patterns of trade.
$65 General/$50 Members/$15 Students
Register here


Sunday, April 23, 2 pm
The Hats of Stephen Jones
The Farrell Auditorium
$25 ($20 Members)
Register Here
Advanced tickets recommended
Stephen Jones, milliner

The hats of contemporary milliner Stephen Jones have been worn by some of the world’s biggest stars and fashion icons. Jones will discuss the inspiration for his own work and its connections to the history of hats and art.
A conversation with milliner Jennifer Ouellette will follow.
Overflow seating for live telecast in the Education Center $5 General/Free for Members (ticket required). Priority ticketing for Members begins April 4. General ticketing begins April 6.

SLAM Underground: Crown

Friday, April 28, 7 pm–10 pm
Join us for activities, cocktails, and art making inspired by the exhibition. Admission is free. For more information, visit slam.org/underground or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.


Saturday, April 29, 10 am–3 pm
Creative Crowns: The Art of Millinery
Join award-winning custom hat designer Dianne Isbell for a one-day millinery class devoted to the fashion of 19th century France and the hats and fascinators worn at the time. Class participants will create their own fascinator inspired by the exhibition.
$50 General/$40 Members
Register Here


Sunday, April 30, 2 pm
A Woman's Touch
George T. M. Shackelford, deputy director, Kimbell Art Museum
From his earliest portraits to his last images of bathers—and notably in his images of milliners—Degas was fascinated with hands and fingers. George Shackelford, author of Degas: The Dancers and Degas and the Nude, will discuss the ways in which Degas depicts or suggests the tactile in his images of women. This free program is held in The Farrell Auditorium. A ticket is required for entry.

Gallery Talks

Thursday, May 3, 11 am
Friday, May 4, 6 pm

These free talks will meet at the Information Center located in Sculpture Hall.

Film and Music

Saturday, May 6, 11 am
Au Bonheur des dames
Step back in time for a glimpse of Parisian life through this 1930s silent film directed by Julien Duvivier. Musical accompaniment provided by Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris, who specialize in French popular music. This event occurs in The Farrell Auditorium. (85 minutes)
$15 General/$10 Members
Register here

* For more details and registration information, click on the Symposium tab below.
Degas' At the Milliner's painting
Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917; At the Milliner's, c. 1882-98; oil on canvas; 24 1/4 x 29 inches; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Collection of Mr. And Mrs. Paul Mellon, 2001.27; Photo: Travis Fullerton © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Imagine yourself in a milliner's world when you visit the SLAM Explore Lab, an interactive space located midway through the exhibition:
  • Sit, relax, and take a selfie in the SLAM Salon—share your photo on social media with #SLAMSalon
  • Touch the fabrics, ribbons, and flowers painted in Edgar Degas' millinery works of art
  • Be inspired by hat-making guides and stories from a selection of books for all ages
  • View the materials and tools essential to a milliner's craft
Jean Bearaud's Paris, rue de Havre painting
Jean Béraud, French, 1849–1936; Paris, rue du Havre, 1882; oil on canvas; 13 7/8 × 10 3/4 inches; National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection, 1970

Members See it Free

Enhance your experience of Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade and other upcoming exhibitions and programs by becoming a Museum Member. For information, visit slam.org/members or call 314.721.0072.

All Members enjoy:

  • Free admission to all exhibitions (two per visit)
  • Invitations to Members-only exhibition previews and special events
  • $5 parking in the parking garage (save up to $10 per visit)
  • Discounts on classes, workshops, and ticketed programs
  • 10 percent discount on shopping and dining
  • Subscriptions to the Museum Magazine, Calendar, and Member eNews

Just for Members

Friday, February 10, 10 am–9 pm
Saturday, February 11, 10 am–5 pm

Member Exhibition Preview Days
Members get a sneak peek of Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade before the exhibition officially opens.
Woman's Hat with ostrich feathers made by Guillard Soeurs
Guillard Soeurs, French, active late 19th-early 20th century; Woman's Hat, c. 1910; plain and basket weave straw, ostrich feathers, silk lace and artificial flowers; courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art , Gift of Mrs. Pierre Fraley

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade

Friday evening April 21, 5:00-9:00 pm and Saturday, April 22, 9:30 am-4:30 pm
$65 General/$50 Members/$15 Students
Register here

The Saint Louis Art Museum presents this unique opportunity to examine millinery as a key subject for Edgar Degas and his Impressionist circle, situating their images of hatmakers, shoppers, and hats within wider historical contexts of developing fashion, changing attitudes to women, and shifting patterns of trade.

The symposium is held in conjunction with main exhibition Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade (February 12–May 7).

Friday evening keynote address:

Saturday topics and speakers include:

  • Ruth Iskin, professor, department of the arts, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
    Display and Consumers of Fashionable Hats in the Work of Degas and His Contemporaries

  • Marni Kessler, associate professor, Kress Foundation Department of Art History, University of Kansas
    Materializing Veils and the Condition of Seeing in Degas’s Thee Women at the Races

  • Laura Camerlengo, assistant curator of costume and textile arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
    The "Twist and Turn of Ribbon": French Millinery, 1870—1914

  • Simon Kelly, curator and head of department of modern and contemporary art, Saint Louis Art Museum
    Plume Mania: Degas, the Impressionists, and the Imaging of Feathers

Download a detailed symposium schedule here

Presenters are subject to change.

Hotels Near the Saint Louis Art Museum

Moonrise Hotel
The Cheshire
Hampton Inn & Suites St. Louis at Forest Park
[TOP]Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917; The Millinery Shop, 1879-1886; oil on canvas; 39 3/8 x 49 9/16 inches; The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection