Actress in Her Dressing Room
c. 1875-1880 and c. 1895-1905
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
Not on View

Though a regular subscriber and a steady presence at the ballet, Degas seems to have taken less interest in the theater; dancers, not actresses, were his great subject. But this scene of an actress in her dressing room suggests that elaborate backstage artifice of all kinds exerted a pull on the painter’s imagination. Costumed for a seventeenth-century period drama, the actress takes a last appraising look in the mirror. The cramped space and lurid gaslight turn her reflection into a mask of grease paint. Like Women Ironing and Dancers in the Rotunda at the Paris Opéra, this picture was likely begun in the 1870s and reworked years later, perhaps as late as 1905, when Degas had absorbed the influence of a younger artist, the radical colorist Paul Gauguin.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Actress in Her Dressing Room
  • Date: c. 1875-1880 and c. 1895-1905
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 33-5/8 x 29-3/4 in. (85.4 x 75.6 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1972.03.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

[Galerie Ambroise Vollard, Paris; stock no. 5144, in 1918].
Mark Oliver, London; sold 1936 to;
[Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd., London; stock no. 178/36; sold 21 July 1936 to];
Mrs. Gilbert Russell, Mottisfont Abbey, Romsey, Hampshire, England; consigned 6 April 1964 to;
[Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London; stock no. 4602; sold 8 June 1964 to];
Norton Simon, Los Angeles (sale, New York, Parke-Bernet, 5 May 1971, lot 33, ill., as L’Actrice dans sa loge, to);
Michael F. Drinkhouse, New York.
[Stephen Hahn, New York, sold, as Femme à sa toilet [sic], 20 January 1972 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.


  • Paul Cassirer (Gallery), 1913-11 to

Corot to Cézanne

  • London, Alex. Reid and Lefevre, Ltd., 1936-06 to

[on loan]

  • Richmond, Virginia, Museum of Fine Arts, 1972-02-08 to 1973-03-04

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and The Norton Simon Foundation_1

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1973-05-03 to 1976-06-15

By Day & By Night: Paris in the Belle Époque

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2019-10-04 to 2020-03-02

Redesigned Degas Galleries

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1995-05-04 to 1997-06-01
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 516 p. 287
  • Vollard, Ambroise, Degas: Quatre-vignt-dix-huit reproductions signées par Degas (Peintures, pastels, dessins et estampes), 1918, pl. LXXVII
  • Sutton, Denys, Edgar Degas: Life and Work, 1986, no. 213 p. 228, 229
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 152
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 8 p. 115
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 221 p. 272
  • Michel Schulman, Degas Catalogue Raisonné Online, 2021, MS-932

Additional Artwork by Artist

Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in front Edgar Degas Modeled c. 1882-95; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in line Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, right hand near the ground, left arm outstretched (First arabesque penchée) Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21

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