La Femme aux chrysanthèmes (1865)

Degas, Edgar (1834-1917)

La Femme aux chrysanthèmes (A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers, Madame Paul Valpinçon?)
Oil on canvas, 73.7 x 92.7 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

The juxtaposition of the prominent bouquet and the off-center figure, gazing distractedly to the right, exemplifies Degas’s aim of capturing individuals in seemingly casual, slice-of-life views. The sitter is probably the wife of the artist’s schoolboy friend Paul Valpinçon; Degas immensely enjoyed outings to their country house, Ménil-Hubert, and the dahlias, asters, and gaillardias in the bouquet would suggest a late summer visit. The painting was preceded by a pencil drawing of the woman, also dated 1865 (Fogg Art MuseumCambridge, Mass.). (MET)