Woman Combing Her Hair before a Mirror
c. 1870-1875
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

More swiftly and richly painted than most Degas works of the 1870s, this scene of a woman combing her hair offers few clues to its subject’s identity. The artist returned again and again to the theme of women combing their hair—from backstage to brothel to bourgeois interior—capitalizing on the chance it provided to portray a figure absorbed in her task, seemingly unaware she is being observed. Degas painted this particular composition on top of an earlier picture, probably a portrait, which he turned upside down before beginning anew. The left ear of the hidden sitter remains visible in the curve of the figure’s waist.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Woman Combing Her Hair before a Mirror
  • Date: c. 1870-1875
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 18-1/4 x 12-3/4 in. (46.4 x 32.4cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1968.03.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Edgar Degas Estate, Paris (sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 6-8 May 1918, lot 31, as “Femme se coiffant,” for f. 25,000 to);
Durand-Ruel, Paris.
[Jacques Seligmann, Paris (sale, American Art Galleries, New York, 27 January 1921, lot 24, as Femme se coiffant, for $2850, to)];
[Ambroise Vollard].
[Durand-Ruel, New York, stock no. 4670, transferred June 1921 to];
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, Paris, stock no. 13044, consigned/sold 30 September 1929/2 January 1930 to];
[Rosengart Gallery, Lucerne, and Gallerie Thannhauser (no. 1420), Munich-Berlin, consigned ca. 29 January 1935 to];
[M. Knoedler & Co., New York, stock no. CA697, returned 15 May 1935 to];
[Rosengart Gallery, Lucerne (inv. no. 13044) and Galerie Thannhauser, Munich-Berlin (stock no. 1420), shipped to Paris by Rosengart on 17 June 1937 to;]
Justin K. Thannhauser, Paris/New York, sold 1963 to;
[Feilchenfeldt, Zurich, sold 1963 to];
[M. Knoedler & Co., New York; stock no. A8528, as Femme se Coiffant, sold 18 January 1968 to];
4th Marquis of Hertford (1800-1870), purchased 1861/1863, by inheritance to;
Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890), by inheritance to;
Lady Wallace (d. 1897), by inheritance to;
Sir John Murray-Scott (1843-1912, by inheritance to;
Victoria Sackville-West, Lady Sackville (1864-1936, wife of 3rd Baron S.), sold 1914 to;
[Jacques Seligmann, Paris].
[?]Mrs. George F. Baker.
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred (Lady Wallace) Löwenstein, Brussels and London; by 1930.
[E. Speelman, London; sold 21 December 1949 to];
[Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London, stock nos. 0190 and 0191, sold 18 July 1951 to];
M. T. (Mrs. Richard) Warde, London (sale, London, Christie’s, 19 March 1965, lot 70, ill., as The Interrupted Supper).
[Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, stock nos. 7752 and 7753, as Le souper interrompu, sold 9 April 1967 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1974-10-19 to 1976-06-15
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre,no. 436 p. 239
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 153
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas,no. 426
  • Steele, Valerie, The Corset: A Cultural History, p. 123
  • Schacherl, Lillian, Edgar Degas: Dancers and Nudes, pp. 73, 124
  • Steele, Valerie, The Corset: A Cultural History (Russian edition), p. 123
  • Kendall, Richard, Degas by Himself, p. 169
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum,2009, Fig. 3 p. 85
  • Degas, Edgar Germain Hilaire, Letters, p. 123
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 411 p. 295
  • Keller, Horst, Edgar Degas,fig. 105 p. 141
  • The French Impressionists in Southern California: Paintings, Sculptures and Prints in Public Collections. A Guide Book and Catalogue,
  • White, Barbara Ehrlich, Impressionists Side by Side: Their Friendships, Rivalries, and Artistic Exchanges, pp. 206-207
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Additional Artwork by Artist

Actress in Her Dressing Room Edgar Degas c. 1875-1880 and c. 1895-1905
After the Bath Edgar Degas c. 1890-1893 (dated in error by another hand: 1885)
Autograph Letter to Durand-Ruel Edgar Degas n.d.

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form