DEGAS, Edgar
(b. 1834, Paris, d. 1917, Paris)

The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans

Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arrts, Pau

In the fall of 1872, Degas traveled to America with his brother René, in order to visit two other brothers who settled as cotton traders in New Orleans. He remained there until April 1873. He found the exoticism of the "colonial" society of New Orleans very attractive.

Apart from a few portraits of relatives, Degas painted only one major work in New Orleans, The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans. This is a painting of interiors, revealing a new and very elaborate approach to group portraits. The artist's uncle, Monsieur Musson, sits in the foreground, wearing a top hat and testing cotton samples. René de Gas sits behind him, reading a newspaper, while the other brother, Achille, leans on the frame of a glass partition on the left.

This painting is one of Degas's most mature works in his naturalistic style.