Music was a significant cultural component in nineteenth-century Parisian society. The informal clothes and the warm sunlight suggest that this is a rehearsal. The artist captures a moment when the musicians are interrupted and the woman turns as if searching for the source of the disturbance. The identities of the sitters are not known but the artist differentiates their characters very succinctly. The loosely drawn and frothily painted woman conveys the impression of surprise and slight apprehension, while the more solidly drawn man is oblivious, immersed in the tuning of his instrument.
Artist Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917
  • Violinist and Young Woman
  • Violiniste et jeune femme tenant un cahier de musique (alternate title)
Date ca. 1871
Medium Oil and crayon on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 18 1/4 × 22 inches (46.4 × 55.9 cm)
Framed: 26 1/8 × 30 1/4 × 4 1/4 inches (66.4 × 76.8 × 10.8 cm)
Credit Line Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill
Accession Number 70.167
Department European Painting
On View Modern C235, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, lower left, with red stamp: Degas
the artist, Edgar Degas (Paris, France);
May 6, 1918, sold by (Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, France) auction Atelier E. Degas, 1st sale, lot 49;
Jacques Seligmann (Paris, France);
January 27, 1921, sold by (American Art Association, New York, New York, USA) auction J. Seligmann, lot 25;
1921-1936, purchased by J.H. Whittemore (Naugatuck, Connecticut, USA) [for $7000];
May 4, 1936, purchased by (Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York, New York, USA);
purshased by Robert H. Tannahill [1893-1969] (Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, USA);
1970-present, bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Catalogue des Tableaux, Pastels et Dessigns par Edgar Degas et Provenant de Son Atelier. Sales cat., Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 5, 1918, p. 29, no. 49 (ill.).

Field, H.E. "Edgar Degas, Painter." The Arts 1, no. 2 (January 1921) pp. 8-[ ] (ill.).

Jamot, P. Degas. Paris, 1924, p. 138, pl. 24. [as ca. 1872.]

Hausenstein, W. "Der Geist des Edgar Degas." Pantheon 7 (April 1931): pp. 161-166, p. 164.

Degas. Exh. cat., Marie Harriman Gallery. New York, 1934, cat. 10. [lent by J.H. Whittemore Company of Naugatuck.]

Morsell, M. "Marie Harriman Holds Loan Exhibit of Degas' Early Art." Art News 33, no. 7 (Nov. 17, 1934): p. 16.

Lemoisne, P.A. Degas et son oeuvre. Paris, 1946-1949, vol. 2, p. 134, no. 274 (ill.). [as ca. 1870-1872]; vol. 4, p. 94.

Boggs, J.S. Portraits by Degas. Berkeley, 1962, p. 33, pl. 75.

The Robert Hudson Tannahill Bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit 1970, pp. 9, 20, 27 (ill.).

Detroit Institute of Arts Handbook. Detroit, 1971, p. 157.

Reff, T. "Works by Degas in the Detroit Institute of Arts." Bulletin of the DIA 53, no. 1, 1974, pp. 2, 10, 32-33, cat. 8 (ill.). [ca. 1870-1872.]

Robert Hudson Tannahill Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat., Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Grosse Pointe, 1978, p. 23.

Reff, T. "Degas: A Master among Masters." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34, no. 4 (Spring 1977): pp. 2-48, pp. 16-17 (ill.).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 118-119 (ill.).

Kendall, Richard, ed. Degas by Himself. London, 1987, p. 128 (ill.).

Martinez, B. and J. Block. Visual Forces: an Introduction to Design, Englewood Cliffs, 1988, p. 54 (ill.).

Degas. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, National Gallery of Canada, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paris, Ottawa, and New York, 1988, pp. 178-179, cat. 110 (ill.).

Degas Portraits. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus and Kunsthalle. Zürich and Tübingen, 1994, pp. 26, 283, 286, 343, cat. 111 (ill.). [as ca.1872.]

Shackelford, G. "Degas Portraits." Apollo 142, no. 402 (August 1995): pp. 78-80 (fig. 4).

Message 1995. Exh. cat., Toyota Municipal Museum of Art. Toyota, 1995, pp. 32, 198, cat. 1 (ill.). [as 1872].

Dumas, A., C. Ives, S. Stein, and G. Tinterow. The Private Collection of Edgar Degas. Exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, p. 83 (fig. 93). [listed as Atelier Sale I: 49.]

Degas to Matisse: Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces from The Detroit Institute of Arts. Exh. cat., the Phillips Collection. Washington, D.C., 2000, pp. 82, 139 (ill.).

Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts: Masters of Impressionism and Modern Art. Exh. cat., Sogo Museum of Art, et al. Yokohama, 2001, pp. 32, 52, no. 4, (ill.) p. 53.

Devonyar, Jill and Richard Kendall. Degas and Music. Exh. cat., The Hyde Collection. Glens Falls, 2009, pp. 60-61 (ill.).