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The Milliners

Edgar Degas, French, 1834–1917
Oil on canvas
Made in
France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 217
29 5/8 x 32 1/4 in. (75.2 x 81.9 cm)
framed: 42 7/16 × 44 7/16 × 3 3/8 in. (107.8 × 112.9 × 8.6 cm)
Credit Line
Saint Louis Art Museum, Director's Discretionary Fund; and gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur D. May, Dr. Ernest G. Stillman, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney M. Shoenberg Sr. and Mr. and Mrs. Sydney M. Shoenberg Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Irving Edison, and Harry Tenenbaum, bequest of Edward Mallinckrodt Sr., and gift of Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Levin, by exchange
Public Domain
Object Number
Two milliners in white aprons decorate a straw hat: the woman to the right holds feathers and flowers while her companion pins them in place. Edgar Degas regularly portrayed the theme of milliners and empathized with their creative abilities. In earlier works, he used the American artist Mary Cassatt as a model, but in this late painting, his sitters have become abstract and generalized. This abstraction is evident in the flat areas of color and the line of green curling around the women’s heads.
- 1918
Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Paris, France

Sold in the Atelier Edgar Degas sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 6 - 8, 1918, lot no. 108 [1]

- 1921
Jacques Seligmann, Paris, France; New York, NY, USA [2]

Paul Rosenberg, Paris, France [3]

by 1936 - 1987/1988
Émile Roche, Paris, France; his family, Paris, France, by descent [4]

1987/1988 - 1997
Private Collection, acquired from the descendants of Émile Roche [5]

1997 - 2007
Oporto Realtors Group Inc., Panama City, Republic of Panama; Geneva, Switzerland, acquired from private collection [6]

Blondeau Fine Art Services, Geneva, Switzerland, purchased from Oporto Realtors Group Inc. [7]

2007 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Blondeau Fine Art Services [8]

The main source for this provenance is the 1946 Degas catalogue raisonné [Lemoisne, Paul-André. "Degas et son oeuvre." vol. III. Paris: P. Brame et C.M. de Hauke, 1946, cat. 1315]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] After the artist's death in 1917, this painting was included in the first sale of Degas' studio in 1918 ["Tableaux, Pastels at Dessins par Edgar Degas et provenant de son atelier (Atelier Edgar Degas, 1ere vente)." Paris: Galerie Georges Petit, May 6-8, 1918, p. 59, no. 108].

[2] Jacques Seligmann most likely acquired the painting from the 1918 Atelier Edgar Degas sale (see note [1]). It was later offered in a 1921 sale in New York of Seligmann's collection of works by Degas. The catalogue indicates that Seligmann's entire collection came from the 1918 Atelier Edgar Degas sale ["The Notable Private Collection of Paintings and Pastels by the Great French Master Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas Formed by the Widely Known Antiquarian Jacques Seligmann of Paris." New York: The American Art Galleries, January 27, 1921, no. 48].

[3] Paul Rosenberg quite likely acquired the painting from the sale of Seligmann's collection in 1921 (see note [2]). It was included in an exhibiton at Galerie Paul Rosenberg in the summer of 1936 ["Le Grand Siècle." Paris: Galerie Paul Rosenberg, June 15 - July 11, 1936, no. 21].

[4] According to information provided by Blondeau Fine Art Services, Émile Roche acquired the painting circa 1930, and it remained in the Roche family, by descent, until it was sold to another private collection in 1987/1988 [SLAM document files]. A 1936 exhibition catalogue indicates that the painting was lent by Émile Roche, and confirms that it was once in the studio of Degas ["Degas 1834-1917." Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Museum of Art, 1936, no. 51]. The 1946 Degas catalogue raisonné also lists the painting as from the Collection of Émile Roche, Paris. Additionally, an Exposition de Beaux-Arts label on the back of the painting lists Émile Roche as the lender of the painting to a 1955 exhibition, although the catalogue simply indicates that it was lent by a private collection ["1850-1950, Tableaux de collections parisiennes." Paris: Galerie Beaux-Arts, April 22 - May 31,1955, cat. 135]. A 1967 publication which illustrates this painting indicates that it is from the collection of E. Roche, Paris [Hüttinger, Eduard. "Degas." New York: Crown Publishers, 1967, p. 55]. Additionally, the painting is cited as in the Émile Roche collection in an exhibiton catalogue published in 1988 [Boggs, Jean Sutherland. "Degas" New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988, p. 606].

[5] See note [4]. A 1989 exhibition catalogue simply indicates that a private collection lent the painting to the show ["L’oeuvre ultime de Cézanne à Dubuffet." Saint-Paul: Fondation Maeght, 4 July - 4 October 1989, no. 17].

[6] According to email correspondence dated July 19, 2007 from lawyer Peter R. Stern, Oporto Realtors Group Inc. owned the painting until 2007, having acquired it in 1997 from a private collection [emails dated July 19, 2007 to Saint Louis Art Museum legal counsel David Linenbroker from Peter R. Stern, legal representative for the seller, SLAM document files]. Oporto Realtors Group Inc. sold the painting to Blondeau Fine Art Services.

[7] See note [6].

[8] Purchase agreement and Bill of sale dated September 3, 2007 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, June 26, 2007; and the Minutes of the Board of Commissioners, Saint Louis Art Museum, June 11, 2007.
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