A Cotton Office in New Orleans

A Cotton Office in New Orleans
Artist Edgar Degas
Year 1873
Medium Oil on canvas
Location Musée des beaux-arts de Pau, France
Dimensions 29 in × 36 in
73 cm × 92 cm
Famous Paintings by Edgar Degas
A Cotton Office in New Orleans
The Dance Class
Place de la Concorde
Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando
At the Races
The Bellelli Family
Young Spartans Exercising
More Famous Works

A Cotton Office in New Orleans is an oil painting by Edgar Degas and one of the most important images of 19th century capitalism. The 1873 painting was the first one by Degas to be purchased by a Museum. This painting portrays his uncle’s cotton brokerage business when it went bankrupt during an economic crash.

Here, Degas’ Uncle, Musson, is seen groping the quality of raw cotton, while Degas’ brother Achille is resting against a window at the left. His brother Rene is reading a newspaper while several other people go about their activities.

History Behind the Painting

Degas had traveled with his brother Rene in late 1872 from Europe to New Orleans to visit his uncle Michael Musson. Degas was to travel back to Europe in January 1873 but his trip was delayed.

He therefore decided to paint A-Cotton-Office-in-New-Orleans with the intention of selling it later to a British textile manufacturer. The hope of selling the artwork was ended after there was a decline in art and cotton market. Later on in 1873, in the 2nd Impressionist show in Paris, he exhibited the painting and then sold it in 1878 to the Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts in French) in Pau, France.

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