National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Woman Viewed from Behind (Visit to a Museum) Edgar Degas (artist)
French, 1834 - 1917
Woman Viewed from Behind (Visit to a Museum), c. 1879-1885
oil on canvas
overall: 81.3 x 75.6 cm (32 x 29 3/4 in.) framed: 114.3 x 107.9 x 11.1 cm (45 x 42 1/2 x 4 3/8 in.)
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
1985.64.11
Not on View
From the Tour: Edgar Degas
Object 3 of 7

Degas unleashed his biting wit on many of his colleagues, but was impressed with the work of American artist Mary Cassatt, saying of her "there is someone who senses painting as I do." Like him she maintained the importance of drawing and carefully planned composition. In 1877 Degas invited her to exhibit with the impressionists.

Probably it is Cassatt we see here. Degas made a number of prints and pastels of Cassatt and her sister during visits to the Louvre -- where, in fact, she and Degas first met. These works make it possible to identify the setting of this work. Although painted freely, Degas' sketchy brushstrokes convey the surfaces of painted canvases in heavy gold frames and the pink columns still found in the Grande Galerie. The line of Mary Cassatt's silhouette and the tilt of her head are lively and energetic, but her expression is withheld from view.

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