Actress in Her Dressing Room

Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
c. 1875-1880 and c. 1895-1905
Oil on canvas 
33-5/8 x 29-3/4 in. (85.4 x 75.6 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
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.


[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.

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