The Laundress
c. 1873
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

“Yesterday I spent the whole day in the studio of a strange painter called Degas,” wrote the critic Edmond de Goncourt in February 1874. “[H]e has fallen in love with modern life, and out of all the subjects in modern life he has chosen washerwomen and ballet dancers. When you come to think of it, it’s not a bad choice. It’s a world of pink and white, of female flesh in lawn and gauze… He showed me… washerwomen and still more washerwomen… speaking their language and explaining the technicalities of the different movements in pressing and ironing.” This unusually intimate study of a young girl ironing a sheet was probably among the pictures Degas showed Goncourt. He may have shown it in the first Impressionist group exhibition two months later.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: The Laundress
  • Date: c. 1873
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 9-13/16 x 7-9/16 in. (24.9 x 19.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1979.05.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Georges de Bellio, Paris, purchased possibly in 1876 - until 1894, to;
Dr. E. and Mrs. Victorine Donop de Monchy (nee de Bellio), 1894-until at least 1897.
M. and Mme Jacques Doucet, Neuilly sur Seine, by 1924, still in 1938;
[Hector Brâme, Paris, possibly in partnership with];
[Cesar de Hauke, Paris and New York, in partnership with];
[Jacques Seligmann, New York, by 1939, sold by 1945].
Walter Bareiss, New York, sold 8 January 1953 to;
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, stock no. 5476, sold February 1953 to];
Mr. and Mrs. John Barry Ryan, New York, still in 1977;
[William Beadleston, Inc., New York, offered 8 December 1978 and subsequently sold 17 January 1979 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

French Art of the Nineteenth Century: Paintings, Prints, Drawings

  • Fogg Art Museum, 1942-07 to 1942-08

"Masterpieces Recalled": A Loan Exhibition of the 19th and 20th Century French Paintings For the Benefit of the League for Emotionally Disturbed Children, Inc.

  • New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., 1957-02-06 to 1957-03-02

[on loan]

  • University of Pittsburgh, 1979-02-14 to 1979-08-24

Works by Edgar Degas

  • Cleveland Museum of Art, 1947-02-05 to 1947-03-09

Exposition Degas au profit de la Ligue Franco-Anglo-Américaine contre Le Cancer: Peintures, Pastels, et Dessins, Sculptures, Eaux-fortes, Lithographies et Monotypes

  • Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 1924-04-12 to 1924-05-02

[on loan]

  • New Orleans, New Orleans Museum of Art, 1980-11-03 to 1981-08-12
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, no. 367 p. 103
  • Paragone, fig. 51
  • Bullard, E. John, Arts Quarterly, p. 14
  • Kendall, Richard, Degas by Himself, p. 162
  • Lipton, Eunice, Looking into Degas: Uneasy Images of Women and Modern Life, pl. 85 pp. 137-139
  • Lipton, Eunice, Art History, fig. 42 pp. 295-313
  • Dunlop, Ian, Degas, pl. 97 p. 109
  • Georges-Michel, M., Les Grandes Epoques de la Peinture "Moderne" de Delacroix a nos Jours, opp. p. 97
  • Dumont, Henri, Degas, p. 16
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 329 p. 169
  • Blake, N; C. Harrison and Di Norman, Impressionism and Degas, 1983, pl.II p. 61
  • Keller, Horst, Edgar Degas, 1988, p. 106
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 148
  • Brettell, Richard R., Impressionism on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party", 1996, p. 95
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 5 p. 95
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1573 p. 422
  • Carmen Fernández Jacob, La Patalogía Ocular en la Pintura a Través de la Clínica Oftalmológica, 2017, Fig. 13 p. 109
  • Michel Schulman, Degas Catalogue Raisonné Online, 2021, MS-1953
  • Britany Salsbury, Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work, and Impressionism, 2023, Fig. 3 pp. 2-4, p. 3, 208 (ill.)

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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