A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?)
Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Oil on canvas
29 x 36 1/2 in. (73.7 x 92.7 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 810
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 Museum, Cambridge, Mass.).
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Degas / 1865 [partially legible]; 1865 / Degas
the artist, Paris (1865–87; sold on July 22, 1887, for Fr 4,000 to Boussod, Valadon); [Boussod, Valadon, et Cie, Paris, 1887–89; stock no. 18719, deposited at Goupil, The Hague from April 6 to June 9, 1888; sold on February 28, 1889, for Fr 5,500, to Boivin]; Jules-Émile Boivin, Paris (1889–d. 1909); his widow, Mme Jules-Émile Boivin, Paris (1909–d. 1919); her heirs (1919–20; deposited with Durand-Ruel, Paris on June 10, 1920; deposit no. 12097; sold on July 3, 1920 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York, 1920–21; stock no. 4546; transferred to New York, November 11, 1920; sold on January 28, 1921 for $30,000 to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer (1921–d. 1929, cat. 1931, pp. 108–9, ill.)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 45 (as "Woman with Chrysanthemums") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 113].
Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Museum of Art. "Degas, 1834–1917," November 7–December 7, 1936, no. 8 (as "Woman with Chrysanthemums. La femme aux chrysanthèmes, Mme. Hertel").
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Degas," March 1–May 20, 1937, no. 6.
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "The Painters of Still Life," January 25–February 15, 1938, no. 55 (as "The Woman with the Chrysanthemums [Mme. Hertel]").
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Works by Edgar Degas," February 5–March 9, 1947, no. 8.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting," November 4, 1950–February 11, 1951, no. 72.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 375.
Paris. Grand Palais. "Centenaire de l'impressionnisme," September 21–November 24, 1974, no. 10.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, no. 10.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 3 (of paintings).
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Degas," February 9–May 16, 1988, no. 60.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Degas," June 16–August 28, 1988, no. 60.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 60.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A196.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Impressionnisme: Les origines, 1859–1869," April 19–August 8, 1994, no. 57.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Origins of Impressionism," September 27, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 57.
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 30.
Amsterdam. Van Gogh Museum. "Theo van Gogh," June 24–September 5, 1999, no. 16.
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Theo van Gogh: Marchand de tableaux, collectionneur, frère de Vincent," September 27, 1999–January 9, 2000, no. 16.
Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "Degas and America: The Early Collectors," March 3–May 27, 2001, no. 18.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Degas and America: The Early Collectors," June 16–September 9, 2001, no. 18.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Impressionist Still Life," February 17–June 9, 2002, unnumbered cat. (pl. 2).
Rome. Complesso del Vittoriano. "Degas: Classico e moderno," October 1, 2004–February 1, 2005, no. 18.
P.-A Lemoisne. Degas. Paris, 1912, pp. 32–34, pl. IX, calls it "La Femme aux chrysanthèmes" and identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel; describes it as one of Degas's first compositions to cut off the figure along the side in order to achieve its momentary quality.
Louis Hourticq. "E. Degas." Art et Décoration 32 (July–December 1912), pp. 109–10, comments on the reversal of the conventional hierarchy of portraiture, with the figure relegated to the status of an accessory, as in Far Eastern art.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Kunst. Vol. 2, 2nd ed. Munich, 1915, p. 278.
Paul Jamot. "Degas (1834–1917)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 4th ser., 14 (April–June 1918), pp. 152–53, 156–57, ill., calls it the first example of the off-center composition that would later characterize Degas's pictures, and which contemporary viewers found disconcerting; compares it to Van Dyck's "Self-portrait with Sunflower" (Duke of Westminster).
Paul Lafond. Degas. Vol. 2, Paris, 1919, p. 11, calls it "Portrait de Mme Hertel" and erroneously locates it in the Louvre; states that it is one of Degas's first pictures showing the influence of Japanese prints.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Degas. Munich, 1920, pp. 11–12 [English ed., 1923, p. 25], finds the influence of Manet in the flowers, and calls the portrait "a dry piece of work, thin and feeble. . . . ".
Royal Cortissoz. "Modern France and Renaissance Italy: A Masterpiece by Degas and a Sienese Ceiling." New York Tribune (January 30, 1921), p. 7, ill., notes that this picture has never been exhibited before and is now at the Durand-Ruel gallery, New York, having been purchased by the gallery "only the other day".
American Art News 19 (February 26, 1921), p. 1, ill., notes that it has recently been sold by Durand-Ruel to an American collector.
Paul Jamot. Degas. Paris, 1924, pp. 23, 47–48, 53–54, 90–91, 133, pl. 11, comments that this composition surprised and scandalized Degas's contemporaries.
Ambroise Vollard. Degas (1834–1917). Paris, 1924, ill. opp. p. 32, as "Femme et fleurs".
Paul Jamot. "Deux tableaux de Degas acquis par les Musées nationaux: l'Orchestre et le portrait de Mademoiselle Dihau." Le Figaro artistique (January 3, 1924), p. 4.
Louis Réau inHistoire de l'art depuis les premiers temps chrétiens jusqu'à nos jours. Ed. André Michel. Vol. 8, part 2, Paris, 1926, p. 587.
Henri Focillon. La Peinture aux XIXe et XXe siècles: Du réalisme à nos jours. Paris, 1928, p. 182.
"Havemeyer Collection at Metropolitan Museum: Havemeyers Paid Small Sums for Masterpieces." Art News 28 (March 15, 1930), p. 43.
Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 55.
"The H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Parnassus 2 (March 1930), p. 7.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 108–9, ill., as "Femme aux chrysanthèmes"; identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel.
Germain Bazin. "Degas et l'objectif." L'Amour de l'art 12 (July 1931), pp. 303–4, fig. 94, compares the decentralized composition to modern photography and finds a precedent in Millet's pastel "Bouquet of Daisies" (Henri Rouart sale, no. 209; now Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Louise Burroughs. "Degas in the Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (May 1932), pp. 143–45, ill., compares this picture with its preparatory drawing (Fogg Art Museum), observing that the sitter's personality and character are revealed only in the painting.
Agnes Mongan. "Portrait Studies by Degas in American Collections." Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum 1 (May 1932), p. 65, remarks that the sitter in this picture and its preparatory drawing (Fogg) more closely resembles Mlle Hélène Hertel than her mother, Mme Hertel, based on their portrait drawings (1st Degas sale, no. 313; 3rd Degas sale, no. 159a; both Musée du Louvre, Paris); agrees with the suggestion that Degas was influenced by Millet's pastel [see Ref. Bazin 1931].
Degas, 1834–1917. Exh. cat., Pennsylvania Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1936, pp. 17–18, no. 8, ill. p. 60, identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel.
Camille Mauclair. Degas. London, , p. 166, colorpl. 89, as "Woman and Chrysanthemums (Portrait of Madame Hertel)".
Jacqueline Bouchot-Saupique and Marie Delaroche-Vernet. Degas. Exh. cat., Musée de l'Orangerie. Paris, , pp. 17–18, no. 6, pl. 6, identify the sitter as Mme Hertel.
Virginia Nirdlinger. "Notes on Degas." Parnassus 9 (March 1937), p. 19, calls it a not entirely successful, tentative first attempt at an asymetrical composition.
Ella S. Siple. "Notable Mid-Winter Exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia." Burlington Magazine 70 (February 1937), p. 92.
John Rewald. Edgar Degas. Mulhouse, France, [194_?], fig. 3, erroneously dates it 1863.
Agnes Mongan and Paul J. Sachs. Drawings in the Fogg Museum of Art. Cambridge, Mass., 1940, vol. 1, p. 359, under no. 667, comment that Degas may have borrowed the composition from the Millet pastel (Orsay).
Preface by Edward Alden Jewell inFrench Impressionists and Their Contemporaries Represented in American Collections. New York, 1944, ill. p. 153 (color).
Marguerite Rebatet. Degas. Paris, 1944, p. 31, pl. 14.
Denis Rouart. Degas à la recherche de sa technique. Paris, 1945, pp. 13–15, 70 n. 24 [English ed., 1988, pp. 27, 30, 33, ill. (color)], asserts that the medium is "peinture à l'essence" on paper.
Jacques Lassaigne. Edgar Degas. Paris, 1945, ill. p. 26 (color).
Camille Mauclair. Edgar Degas. New York, 1945, unpaginated, ill. (color).
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 1, pp. 55–56, 239, ill. opp. p. 56; vol. 2, pp. 62–63, no. 125, ill., as "La femme aux chrysanthèmes. (Mme Hertel)".
John Rewald. "The Realism of Degas." Magazine of Art 39 (January 1946), p. 13, calls it "Portrait of Mme Hertel" and mentions the abandoned glove on the table as an example of Degas's 1859 resolution to portray objects in relation to the lives of their owners.
Germain Bazin. L'époque impressionniste. Paris, 1947, p. 67.
Louise Burroughs. "Notes." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (March 1948), inside front cover, ill. (inside front cover and color detail on front cover), discusses it in relation to the drawing (Fogg).
Lillian Browse. Degas Dancers. New York, , p. 20.
Jean Cassou. Les Impressionnistes et leur époque. Paris, 1953, p. 28, no. 42, ill.
François Fosca. Degas. Geneva, 1954, pp. 28–29, ill. (color), asserts that photographs have been found that Degas used in composing this picture.
Howard Fussiner. "Organic Integration in Cézanne's Painting." College Art Journal 15 (Summer 1956), pp. 310–11, fig. 7, discusses its combination of still life and portrait, commenting that "it is only accidentally a unit in itself (by such a miracle of mastery as even Degas rarely again equalled), and always suggesting that more of the world exists outside of the frame".
Pierre Cabanne. Edgar Degas. Paris, , pp. 23, 29, 96, 106, no. 22, pl. 22 [English ed., 1958], states that the photographs Degas used for this portrait were found in London [in a December 10, 1958 letter to Ronald Davey, Cabanne reports that he has no further information regarding these photographs; see departmental archive file]; calls it the first decentralized composition in his oeuvre.
John Canaday. "Four Women." Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 52, no. 253 (1957), pp. 46–49, ill., comments that in this picture Degas violates "all the conventions of portrait composition".
Germain Bazin. French Impressionists in the Louvre. New York, 1958, p. 126.
Iris Elles. Das Stilleben in der französischen Malerei des 19. Jahrhunderts. PhD diss., Universität Zürich. Menziken, 1958, pp. 75–76, 129 n. 2.
Jakob Rosenberg. Great Draughtsmen from Pisanello to Picasso. Cambridge, Mass., 1959, p. 109, remarks that this painting's composition was influenced by the unexpected angles of vision in Japanese woodcuts.
Vlastimil Fiala. Edgar Degas. Prague, 1961, pl. 12.
Jean Sutherland Boggs. Portraits by Degas. Berkeley, 1962, pp. 31–32, 37, 41, 59, 92 n. 52, p. 119, pl. 44, identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel; suggests the influence of Courbet's "The Trellis" (1862; Toledo Museum of Art) or Millet's "Girl with Flowers (Bouquet of Daisies)" (Orsay).
Roseline Bacou. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. August 24, 1962, finds no resemblance between the drawing of Mme Hertel in the Louvre and the sitter in this picture.
Phoebe Pool. Degas. London, 1963, p. 39, colorpl. 10, observes the influence of Delacroix, Moreau, and Venetian painting in the colors of the flowers, which "helped to emancipate [Degas] from the school of Ingres".
Carla Gottlieb. "The Role of the Window in the Art of Matisse." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 22 (Summer 1964), p. 418, suggests that Matisse's compositions of figures "pushed to one side" were influenced by this picture.
Boris Alekseevich Zernov. Degas 1834–1917. 1965, pp. 10–11, pl. 8.
Agnes Mongan. Memorial Exhibition: Works of Art from the Collection of Paul J. Sachs (1878–1965). Exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum. Cambridge, Mass., 1965, unpaginated, under no. 57.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 57–60, ill. p. 59 and on cover (color detail), as "A Woman with Chrysanthemums"; observe that it is difficult to explain why the sitter has been identified as Mme Hertel, especially since she does not resemble the figure in the Louvre drawing labelled Mme Hertel by Degas (3rd Degas sale, no. 159) [see Ref. Boggs 1962, who identifies both Louvre drawings as portraits of Mlle Hélène Hertel]; note that the Millet pastel (Orsay) was executed after this picture; cite Ronald Pickvance's suggestion that Degas signed this picture some time after it was finished and state that a second signature and partial date of 1858 are visible in the lower left corner.
Margaretta M. Salinger. "Windows Open to Nature." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (Summer 1968), unpaginated, ill. (overall and color detail).
Aaron Scharf. Art and Photography. Baltimore, 1969, pp. 144, 301, fig. 126, cites Cabanne's [Ref. 1957] claim that this composition is based on a photograph.
Introduction by Kenneth Clark inMasterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 314, no. 375, ill. pp. 70 (color) and 314, notes that the sitter is unknown.
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, p. 95, no. 210, ill. p. 95 and colorpl. 6, as "Woman with Chrysanthemums (Mme Hertel [?])".
Ronald Pickvance. "Degas as a Photographer." Lithopinion 5 (Spring 1970), pp. 74, 79, ill., remarks that Degas used photography for hints and clues in his painting and that this picture has a "casual, snapshot quality"; notes that no photograph has been found for the pose of the figure, and that it was based instead on the drawing from life (Fogg).
Thomas P. F. Hoving. "Director's Choice." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 28 (January 1970), p. , ill., states that x-rays show that Degas painted the still life first and added the woman later.
John Rewald. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. May 9, 1971, states that according to the Goupil files, this picture was purchased from Degas by Theo van Gogh for Goupil.
Theodore Reff. "The Technical Aspects of Degas's Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal 4 (1971), p. 142, notes that some of Degas's most original pictures, including this one, are painted in a conventional oil technique.
Theodore Reff inFrom Realism to Symbolism: Whistler and His World. Exh. cat., Wildenstein. New York, 1971, p. 28.
John Rewald. "The Impressionist Brush." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 32, no. 3 (1973/1974), pp. 4, 8–9, no. 3, ill. (overall and color detail), dates it 1858–65; compares the treatment of the flowers to Delacroix.
John Rewald. "Théo van Gogh, Goupil, and the Impressionists." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 81 (January 1973), pp. 8, 11, 104–5, fig. 5, notes that this picture was the first work by Degas recorded in the Goupil register, and was purchased outright from the artist in July 1887 but not sold until February 1889; surmises that Theo van Gogh bought it "in order to inveigle the painter to do business with him"; reprints its entry in the ledger as "Femme accoudée près d'un pot de fleurs".
Wendy Baron. Sickert. London, 1973, p. 87, asserts that Walter Richard Sickert's "Nude behind Flowers" and Spencer Gore's "Self-portrait" may have been inspired by this picture.
Charles S. Moffett inImpressionism: A Centenary Exhibition. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1974, pp. 70–75, no. 10, ill. (color, overall and detail) [French ed., "Centenaire de l'impressionnisme," Éditions des musées nationaux, Paris, 1974], dates it probably 1865; based on x-rays and examination of the paint surface, proposes that it was originally a flower painting, possibly begun in 1858, and that the portrait was added in 1865; comments that the sitter is unknown.
Erich Steingräber. "'La repasseuse': Zur frühesten Version des Themas von Edgar Degas." Pantheon 32 (January–March 1974), p. 52, mentions it as an early example of the Japanese influence in Degas's pictures.
Theodore Reff. Degas, The Artist's Mind. [New York], 1976, pp. 28, 48–49, 62–63, 65, 272, 306 n. 41, p. 310 n. 76, fig. 36 (color), based on recent laboratory examinations [see Ref. Moffett 1974], proposes that the still life was painted in 1858, probably influenced by Italian Baroque flower paintings, and then repainted in 1865 in the more vivid palette of Delacroix; sees the influence of Ingres in the figure.
Bernard Dorival in "Ukiyo-e and European Painting." Dialogue in Art: Japan and the West. Ed. Chisaburoh F. Yamada. New York, 1976, p. 34 n. 4, p. 45, fig. 21 (color), observes that this picture and Millet's "Bouquet of Daisies" (which he dates about 1874; Orsay) share the influence of Japanese prints, but considers it unlikely that Millet copied the Degas.
Victor Koshkin-Youritzin. "The Irony of Degas." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 87 (January 1976), pp. 39–40 nn. 23–24, fig. 4, finds it ironic that this picture's initially pleasing depiction of a daydreaming woman beside beautiful flowers conveys "emptiness, futility, and lost hope" upon closer inspection of her unhappy expression and the "strangely overripe" bouquet.
Theodore Reff. "Degas: A Master among Masters." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34 (Spring 1977), p. , fig. 10 (color).
Thomas B. Hess. "Communicating Degas." New York Magazine (March 28, 1977), p. 74.
Frank Whitford. Japanese Prints and Western Painters. New York, 1977, p. 150, colorpl. 17, argues that the asymmetrical composition and unusual points of view are borrowed from Japanese art.
"Other Museum News and Comments." Art Journal 36 (Summer 1977), p. 346.
Hélène Toussaint. Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. [London], 1978, p. 144, under no. 67 [French ed., 1977, p. 161, under no. 70], remarks that Degas may have referred to Courbet's "The Trellis" (Toledo Museum of Art) when he added the figure, whom he identifies as Mme Hertel, to his painting of a bouquet of flowers.
Maurice Sérullaz inPhaidon Encyclopedia of Impressionism. Oxford, 1978, p. 87.
Anne Distel inDe Renoir à Matisse: 22 chefs-d'œuvre des musées soviétiques et français. Exh. cat., Grand-Palais. Paris, 1978, p. 30, under no. 11, compares it to Gauguin's "Te Tiare Farani–les fleurs de France" (1891; Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow).
Charles S. Moffett. Degas: Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, p. 6, ill. on cover (color) and colorpls. 7 and 8 (overall and detail), asserts that the flowers were painted in 1858 and the figure added in 1865; suggests that the setting is the family home of Berthe Morisot, based on the similarity to the background in Degas's portrait of Morisot's sister (MMA 29.100.45); remarks that although the sitter is unknown, the flowers "comment, adjectivally or metaphorically, on her character . . . . the picture is convincing as a realist statement, the record of an actual encounter with a person, rather than a composed, formal portrait".
Ian Dunlop. Degas. New York, 1979, pp. 30, 33, 69, 72, 93, 229 n. 51, colorpl. 59, suggests that Degas may have based this picture on a carte-de-visite photograph; notes that it is the first of a series of portraits of women beyond Degas's immediate family circle "and as such it indicates his growing awareness of life and subjects outside his home and his studio".
Joel Isaacson. The Crisis of Impressionism: 1878–1882. Exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art. [Ann Arbor, Mich.], 1979, p. 196, compares the flowers in this picture to a still life of flowers by Charles Victor Tillot (mid-1870s; Raydon Gallery, New York).
T[heodore]. R[eff]. in Gabriel P. Weisberg. The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing, 1830–1900. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1980, pp. 174–75 n. 2, under no. 149, remarks that the woman's "tense, distracted mood" is evoked by the "brilliant, almost overwhelming bouquet".
Klaus Berger. Japonismus in der westlichen Malerei: 1860–1920. Munich, 1980, pp. 55, 151, 360, fig. 34, identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel.
Kirk Varnedoe. "The Artifice of Candor: Impressionism and Photography Reconsidered." Art in America 68 (January 1980), p. 78 n. 18, asserts that the "snapshot" quality of the composition to which Scharf [Ref. 1969] refers is not related to the actual high-speed exposure photographs of the 1860s.
Eugénie de Keyser. Degas: Réalité et métaphore. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1981, pp. 52, 107, identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel.
Everett Fahy. Metropolitan Flowers. New York, 1982, pp. 26–27, ill. (color), dates it 1858 and 1865; notes that the traditional title, "A Woman with Chrysanthemums," is misleading, as most of the bouquet consists of asters, with possibly some coreopsis and chrysanthemums.
Françoise Cachin inManet, 1832–1883. Ed. Françoise Cachin and Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983, p. 208, under no. 77 [French ed., Paris, 1983].
Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh in Arles. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, p. 42, states that this painting was included in the consignment of ten that Theo van Gogh sent to Tersteeg in the Hague on April 2, 1888, that the pictures arrived in the Hague on April 6, and that they were returned to Paris unsold on June 9.
Roy McMullen. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston, 1984, pp. 119–20, 127, 132, 236, ill., identifies the sitter as Mme Hertel; doubts that this picture was influenced by Van Dyck's "Self-portrait with Sunflower" (Collection Duke of Westminster) or Courbet's "The Trellis" (Toledo) and remarks that Millet's "Bouquet of Daisies" (Orsay) was painted four years after the Degas.
Charles F. Stuckey inDegas: Form and Space. Ed. Maurice Guillaud. Exh. cat., Centre Culturel du Marais. Paris, 1984, pp. 16, 21, 55, figs. 62, 63 (color, detail and overall), asserts that it was begun in 1858 and was later altered to incorporate elements from Courbet's "The Trellis" (Toledo).
Douglas Druick and Peter Zegers inEdgar Degas: The Painter as Printmaker. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1984, p. xxv.
Eugenia Parry Janis inDegas: Form and Space. Exh. cat., Centre Culturel du Marais. Paris, 1984, pp. 458, 460, 466, 484 n. 29, identifies the sitter as Hélène Hertel; rejects Varnedoe's [Ref. 1980] argument against the influence of photography in nineteenth-century painting, asserting that the composition of this picture is similar to those found in contemporary photography "where intended subject matter is subverted by calculated 'accidents' situated along the margins which infuse the scene with their own dynamic".
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 52–53, 55, 250, ill. (color).
Götz Adriani. Degas: Pastels, Oil Sketches, Drawings. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Tübingen. New York, 1985, p. 347, under no. 46, finds that the sitter in this picture hardly resembles the one in the Louvre's drawing inscribed "Me Hertel"; considers the drawing to be a portrait of her daughter, Mlle Hélène Hertel.
Richard Kendall inDegas, 1834–1984. Ed. Richard Kendall. Manchester, 1985, pp. 20–21, fig. 25, observes "the debate between colour and line" in the Delacroix-inspired flowers and Ingres-inspired figure, noting that the later addition of the figure introduced the cultural context of nineteenth-century France; comments that in this picture "colour appears to represent expression, improvisation and licence, while drawing stands for seriousness, for probity and for Degas's commitment to subject-matter".
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 240, 257, colorpl. 162, asserts that Mrs. Havemeyer preferred such "penetrating studies of personality and mood . . . . above all else".
Melissa McQuillan. Impressionist Portraits. London, 1986, pp. 40–41, ill. (color), calls it "Woman with Chrysanthemums" and dates it 1858–65; tentatively identifies the sitter as Mme. Hertel.
Sjraar van Heutgen et al. inFranse meesters uit het Metropolitan Museum of Art: Realisten en Impressionisten. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1987, p. 25, fig. 12.
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 20, colorpl. 7, date it 1858 and 1865, noting that it "represents an accumulation of ideas and observations over a long period".
Charles F. Stuckey inThe Art of Paul Gauguin. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1988, p. 220, ill.
Gary Tinterow inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 387, 400.
Horst Keller. Edgar Degas. Munich, 1988, pp. 66, 71, 174, colorpl. 62.
Henri Loyrette inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 55, 112, 114–17, 121, 157, 168, 182, no. 60, ill. (color), as "Woman Leaning near a Vase of Flowers (Mme Paul Valpinçon?)"; asserts that a recent x-ray proves the erased date does not read "1858" but is also "1865" and that the bouquet is not chrysanthemums, but a variety of end-of-summer flowers, which would date the painting to August-September 1865; states that the sitter is clearly not Mme Hertel, suggesting instead that she is Mme Paul Valpinçon based on the time of year, rural setting, the sitter's apparent age, and her resemblance to a small sketch inscribed "Mme Paul" (location unknown).
Richard Thomson. "The Degas Exhibition at the Grand Palais." Burlington Magazine 130 (April 1988), p. 297, agrees with Loyrette's [Ref. 1988] identification of the sitter as the wife of Paul Valpinçon.
Jean Sutherland Boggs inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, p. 506.
Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge. Degas. New York, 1988, p. 274, ill. p. 101 (color).
Jack Flam. "The Master on View at New Met Galleries." Wall Street Journal (December 27, 1988), p. ?.
Robert L. Herbert. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven, 1988, pp. 57, 72, colorpl. 59, describes it as conveying a disturbing sense of loneliness.
Henri Loyrette. "Degas entre Gustave Moreau et Duranty. Notes sur les portraits 1859–1876." Revue de l'art no. 86 (1989), pp. 19, 21, fig. 10, notes that "Femme accoudée près d'un vase de fleurs" is close to the title given to this picture when it was acquired by Theo van Gogh in 1887.
Norma Broude. "A World of Light: France and the International Impressionist Movement, 1860–1920." World Impressionism: The International Movement, 1860–1920. Ed. Norma Broude. New York, 1990, p. 31, colorpl. 28, as "Woman with Vase of Flowers (Mme Paul Valpinçon?)"; interprets the past misidentification of the flowers as chrysanthemums, the imperial flower of Japan, as an acknowledgment of the Japanese influence on the composition.
Geneviève Lacambre. "Le Temps du Salon." L'Art du XIXe siècle, 1850–1905. Ed. Françoise Cachin. Paris, 1990, p. 35, ill. on contents page (color detail) and fig. 23 (color), notes that the sitter may be Mme Valpinçon; doubts the influence of Courbet's "The Trellis" (Toledo), since Degas may not have seen it by the time he painted this picture.
Horst Uhr. "Impressionism in Austria and Germany." World Impressionism: The International Movement, 1860–1920. Ed. Norma Broude. New York, 1990, p. 369, calls it "A Woman with Chrysanthemums" and compares its asymmetrical composition to Lovis Corinth's "Wilhelmine with Flowers" (1920; Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel).
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, p. 98, fig. 151.
Henri Loyrette. Degas. Paris, 1991, pp. 197, 216, 263, 300, 474, 719 n. 39, p. 727 n. 47, ill., identifies the sitter as Mme Paul (Marguerite-Claire) Valpinçon.
Patrick Bade. Degas. London, 1991, p. 37, remarks that its composition may have been based on a photograph.
Margaret Fitzgerald Farr. "Impressionist Portraiture: A Study in Context and Meaning." PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1992, p. 67 n. 96, pp. 69–71, p. 255 n. 41, pl. 18, calls it "Woman Leaning near a Vase of Flowers" and "A Woman with Chrysanthemums".
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 257, 337 n. 376.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 278.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 36, colorpl. 39, states that it was Mrs. Havemeyer's last important purchase.
Chuji Ikegami. New History of World Art. Vol. 22, Period of Impressionism. Tokyo, 1993, p. 377, ill. p. 377 and colorpl. 45.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 325, no. A196, ill. p. 326.
Henri Loyrette. Degas: The Man and His Art. New York, 1993, pp. 106–7, ill. (color), notes that Durand-Ruel's monopoly on the Degas market ended when Degas consigned this picture to Theo van Gogh, for Galerie Boussod et Valadon, in 1887.
Henri Loyrette inOrigins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 156, 224–25, 296, 359, 368, 370–71, 405, no. 57, fig. 281 (color) and ill. p. 370 [French ed., Paris, 1994, pp. 156, 224–25, 296, 357, 367, 369–70, 402, no. 57, fig. 281 (color) and ill. p. 369], remarks that Degas imitated Courbet's "The Trellis" (Toledo), but that in this picture the flowers serve as an attribute of the woman's social status; comments that "Mme Valpinçon's bouquet is her work and her prerogative; she has engaged in the bucolic bourgeois ritual of cutting late-summer flowers and arranging them in a vase"; asserts that Degas would have called it a "painting" instead of a "portrait"; identifies the flowers as china asters, gillyflowers, centauries, gaillardias, and dahlias
Gary Tinterow in Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, p. 338 [French ed. "Impressionnisme: Les origines, 1859–1869," Paris, 1994, p. 337].
Jean Sutherland Boggs inDegas Portraits. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. London, 1994, pp. 19, 89, 95, ill. p. 88, calls it "Woman with Chrysanthemums".
Emil Maurer inDegas Portraits. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. London, 1994, pp. 110–11, 117 n. 51, calls it "a portrait seen out of the corner of the eye".
Tobia Bezzola inDegas Portraits. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. London, 1994, p. 209, accepts the identification of the sitter as Mme Valpinçon.
Albert Kostenevich. Hidden Treasures Revealed: Impressionist Masterpieces and Other Important French Paintings Preserved by the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Exh. cat.New York, 1995, p. 259, calls it "Woman with Chrysanthemums"; compares it to Vuillard's "Young Woman in a Room" (about 1892–93; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), noting that Vuillard had probably seen this picture.
Julian Barnes. "The Artist as Voyeur." Modern Painters 9 (Autumn 1996), pp. 24–25, ill. (color).
Linda Nochlin in Colin B. Bailey. Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 1997, pp. 59–60.
Françoise Cachin inThe Private Collection of Edgar Degas. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, pp. 231–33, n. 37, fig. 202, cites the influence of Degas, and our painting in particular, on the first important portraits that Gauguin began to paint in 1888; mentions that our picture was being stored at Theo van Gogh's home in 1887 and 1888 when Gauguin paid frequent visits there during his trips to Paris.
Gary Tinterow inLa collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1997, pp. 22, 63, 105, no. 30, ill. p. 65 (color).
Eugenia Parry in Malcolm Daniel. Edgar Degas, Photographer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 56, 62, 72 n. 8, fig. 41, cites the compelling pose and glance of the sitter as an early example of calculated diversion, a device later used by photographers.
Dianne W. Pitman. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. University Park, Pa., 1998, pp. 181, 205, fig. 120.
Richard Thomson. "Theo van Gogh: The Man and the Market." Van Gogh Bulletin 14, no. 2 (1999), pp. 14–15, ill. (color), cites it as the first painting that Degas sold to Theo van Gogh in order to build his own art collection.
Richard Thomson inTheo van Gogh: Marchand de tableaux, collectionneur, frère de Vincent. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Paris, 1999, pp. 111, 203 n. 136, p. 211, no. 16, ill. pp. 58–59 (color detail), fig. 104 (color), records its title as "Femme accoudée" when purchased by Theo van Gogh in 1887.
Rebecca A. Rabinow inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, p. 44, ill. p. 34 (color detail).
Ann Dumas inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, pp. 14, 28.
Frances Fowle inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, p. 117.
Claire I. R. O'Mahony inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, pp. 118–19, 189, no. 18, ill. (color).
Phaedra Siebert inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, p. 250.
Alexandra Ames Lawrence in Eliza E. Rathbone and George T. M. Shackelford. Impressionist Still Life. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. New York, 2001, p. 150.
George T. M. Shackelford in Eliza E. Rathbone and George T. M. Shackelford. Impressionist Still Life. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. New York, 2001, pp. 23, 50, colorpl. 2, asserts that Degas imitated Delacroix's technique in this picture, which was executed the year after Delacroix's "A Basket of Flowers Overturned in a Park" (MMA 67.187.60) was exhibited in Paris; calls it one of Degas's earliest "disjunctive" portraits, in which the sitter does not seem to be the primary subject of the painting.
Jennifer A. Greenhill in Eliza E. Rathbone and George T. M. Shackelford. Impressionist Still Life. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. New York, 2001, pp. 205–6, calls it Degas's earliest "woman and flowers" picture and notes that its sale price of Fr 4,000 to Theo van Gogh was the second largest amount Degas had ever been paid for his work.
Clare A. P. Willsdon. In the Gardens of Impressionism. New York, 2004, pp. 12, 44, 46–48, 50–51, 73, 80–81, 280, colorpl. 47 (detail), pl. 48, observes that the flowers have symbolic meanings that complement the woman's pensive mood, noting that asters, marigolds, and cornflowers connote sadness, doubts, affliction, and melancholy; argues that her positioning on the far right of the composition, with averted eyes and upheld hand displaying a wedding ring may refer to Degas's own ambiguous feelings about marriage and the "push and pull between loss and recovery of self".
Gioia Mori inDegas: Classico e moderno. Ed. Maria Teresa Benedetti. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2004, pp. 73–74.
Maria Teresa Benedetti inDegas: Classico e moderno. Ed. Maria Teresa Benedetti. Exh. cat., Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome. Milan, 2004, pp. 29–30, 212, no. 18, ill. p. 213 (color).
Marjorie Benedict Cohn inDegas at Harvard. Exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum. Cambridge, Mass., 2005, pp. 24, 26, fig. 6 (color), remarks that when Paul J. Sachs bought the drawing study (Fogg) in 1920, the painting had already been published in early monographs, so that he was aware of the significance of his purchase.
Vanessa Gavioli inDegas. English ed. [1st ed., Milan, 2003]. New York, 2005, pp. 80–81, 180, ill. (color and black and white).
Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall. Degas and the Art of Japan. Exh. cat., Reading Public Museum. Reading, Pa., 2007, pp. 15, 99 n. 31, suggest that this picture may have been influenced by Utamaro's woodblock print "Reflective Love".
Laurence des Cars inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 327, fig. 2 (color) [French ed., Paris, 2007].
Jane Kinsman. Degas: The Uncontested Master. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Australia. Canberra, 2008, pp. 176, 179 n. 5.
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, p. 230, fig. 166 (color).
Clare A. P. Willsdon. Impressionist Gardens. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. London, 2010, p. 24, fig. 15 (color), notes the influence of the Lyons school of flower painters and calls this picture an updated version of the "'gardener-girl'" motif.
Gloria Groom inImpressionism, Fashion, & Modernity. Ed. Gloria Groom. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Chicago, 2012, p. 224 [French ed., "L'Impressionnisme et la Mode," Paris, 2012, p. 241].
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, p. 284, under no. F588 [1st German ed., 2009], suggests that Vincent van Gogh may have seen this work, "which Theo [van Gogh] had sold," and that it might have inspired MMA 1993.400.4.
The painting is signed and dated 1865 twice. Infrared photographs made in 1987 show that the partly obscured date is 1865, not 1858 as was previously assumed. X-rays taken in 1987 reveal that the bouquet originally extended farther to the right, but that Degas scraped that part out and painted the figure of the woman over it.
A drawing for the figure of the woman is in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass. The sitter was once thought to be Mme Charlotte Hertel, but is now tentatively identified as Marguerite-Claire Valpinçon, wife of Degas's friend Paul Valpinçon. Mme Valpinçon also appears in a small notebook drawing (about 1862; location unknown), in a portrait drawing with her husband (1861; Morgan Library & Museum, New York), and in the painting "At the Races in the Countryside" (1869; L281; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)Date: ca. 1878–79Medium: Pastel and charcoal on green wove paper; squared for transfer in charcoal; letterpress printing on versoAccession: 19.51.1On view in:Not on view