Photo courtesy of wallyg at
Flickr Creative Commons.
Degas in New Orleans
Artist Edgar Degas, considered one of the founders of the French
Impressionist movement, was born in France, in 1834.  His father was French,
but his mother was from New Orleans.  On the occasion of Edgar's birth, his
father purchased a Creole cottage on Rampart Street in New Orleans and
placed it in his son's name, to link his oldest son to his mother's home.  
Celeste Musson Degas, Edgar's mother, died when he was young, but Edgar's
maternal grandfather visited the family in Paris and Edgar maintained ties to
his mother's city through correspondence with relatives there.  He visited New
Orleans in 1872 and, although he stayed only five months, he created 22
works of art there, including the painting above, done at his uncle's cotton
brokerage.  (Degas' uncle, Michael Musson, and two of his brothers, Rene and
Achille Degas, are shown in the painting.)  Some say his full talent in the
Impressionist genre didn't emerge until his visit to New Orleans.
"A Cotton Office in New Orleans" by Edgar Degas, 1873
 The Musson home, where Degas stayed
during his visit to the city, is the only
residence or studio in the world
associated with the artist that is open to
the public.  It is both a bed and
breakfast and the home of the Edgar
Degas Foundation, dedicated to preserving
his legacy.  The house was constructed in
1852; period furnishings are displayed and
reproductions of Degas' paintings fill the
walls.  Guided tours are conducted by
appointment.  The house has been placed
on the National Register of Historic
The Musson family tomb in St. Louis
No. 1 Cemetery, New Orleans.
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
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The Past Whispers - Home
Block of buildings on Carondelet Street known as Factors Row, where Degas' uncle's
cotton brokerage - the scene of "The Cotton Office" - was located.  Cotton brokers
were known as cotton factors.  These factors acted, in essence, as agents for
cotton planters, but they provided many other services, including extending credit
and providing investment advice.  Many had warehouses which they leased to
planters as storage for the cotton.  In the days when the international cotton trade
was at its zenith, there were over 450 cotton factors in New Orleans.
This was the home of Degas' g-grandfather, Vincent Rillieux.  It's on
Chartres Street and was built in the late 1700's, just after the great
fire of 1794.  It served as home to three different New Orleans
banks.  Since 1881, it's been occupied by Waldhorn & Adler Antiques.