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A woman wearing a red cloak is sitting in front of a window.

A woman is sitting at the center of the painting, her body facing to the right-hand side. She has a red cloak draped over her shoulders, which hangs over the side of the chair, and she is wearing a white skirt. Her hands and arms are hidden under the cloak. Her head is turned slightly towards her right shoulder, and her gaze confronts the viewer. She is wearing a hat, under which her brown hair is gathered. She sits in front of a large window. Beyond the window are rooftops and trees.

Gallery Text

By this point in his career, Degas had abandoned historical scenes to portray activities of modern urban life. This portrait, painted in his studio on the rue Blanche in Paris, depicts his friend Alice Villette in front of a large window overlooking the cityscape. The composition relies on a conceit of portraiture dating to the Renaissance that uses a window to expand the picture plane through perspective. Degas upends this tradition by depicting an independent view of the city in each window pane, defying the viewer’s expectation to see a continuous, defined landscape in the background. The progressively sketchy quality of these views through panes from left to right prohibits an expansion of the space within the portrait, flattening it instead so that the sitter is pushed into a close confrontation with the viewer.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, French (Paris, France 1834 - 1917 Paris, France)
Alice Villette
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Mme. Olivier Villette / Mme. V. dans l'Atelier de Degas, Rue Blanche, 1872 / Madame V. / Portrait of Mme. Olivier Villette / Portrait of Madame V. / Woman at Window / Mme. V. dans l'Atelier de Rue Blanche, Paris, 1872
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2700, European and American Art, 19th century, Impressionism and the Late Nineteenth Century
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on linen canvas
46.4 x 33 cm (18 1/4 x 13 in.)
framed: 70.2 x 56 cm (27 5/8 x 22 1/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Hilarie-Germain-Edgar Degas, sold; to Mlle. Dihau, sold; to [Durand-Ruel, Inc., Paris and New York, 1922], sold; to C. Chauncey Stillman, 1925, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1925.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of C. Chauncey Stillman, Class of 1898, in memory of his father, James Stillman
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1927), repr. in b/w, p. 53
  • Exhibition of French Painting of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1929), no. 31a
  • Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1931), repr., p. 68
  • Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), ill. p. 99
  • Paul André Lemoisne, Degas et son Oeuvre, Paul Brame and Cesar M. de Hauke (Paris, France, 1946-1949), vol. II: p. 152, no. 303; repr. b/w
  • An exhibition of works by Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum (Los Angeles, CA, 1958), no. 23
  • Highlights from the Collections of the Fogg Museum and Harvard Alumni of St. Louis, exh. cat., City Art Museum of St. Louis (St. Louis, 1964), cat. 28
  • Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY, 1967), cat. 28
  • Umehara Ryūzaburō, Degas, Zauho Press (Tokyo, Japan, 1971), pl. 27, repr. in color
  • Barbara S. Shapiro, Edgar Degas: the Reluctant Impressionist, exh. cat., Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA, 1974), no. 7
  • Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, p. 50, fig. 40, repr. in color
  • Denys Sutton, Edgar Degas, Life and Work, Rizzoli (New York, NY, 1986), p. 131, fig. 101 repr. in b/w
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 104, 238, repr. b/w cat. no. 324
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), p. 55, no. 12, repr. in color
  • Felix Baumann, ed., Degas Portraits, exh. cat., Merrell Holberton (London, England, 1994), no. 112, p. 343, repr. in b/w; repr. in color p. 238
  • Felix Baumann and Marianne Karabelnik, Degas: Die Portraits, exh. cat., Merrell Holberton / Kunsthaus Zurich (London, England and Zürich, Switzerland, 1994), no. 112, p.343, repr. in b/w
  • Leo Bronstein, Kabbalah and Art, Knowlton & McLeary (Farmington, ME, 1997), fig. 44
  • Jon Garelick, "Abstract Thoughts: The Transitional and Transcendent Art of Edgar Degas at the Sackler Museum", The Boston Phoenix (August 5 2005), p. 18, p. 18
  • Christopher Reed, "Mad for Degas", Harvard Magazine (July 2005 - August 2005), vol. 107, no. 6, pp. 40-45, pp. 42-43, ill.
  • Marjorie B. Cohn and Jean Sutherland Boggs, Degas at Harvard, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums/Yale University Press (Cambridge and New Haven, 2005), detail repr. in color on cover; repr. in color p. 38; p. 39; p. 90; no. 1, p. 98
  • Henri Loyrette, Degas: A New Vision, exh. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Melbourne/Houston, 2016), repr. p. 77, detail repr. p. xiv

Exhibition History

  • Unidentified Exhibition, Wellesley College, 1927, Wellesley College Museum of Art, Wellesley, 04/01/1927 - 05/31/1927
  • French Painting of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 03/06/1929 - 04/06/1929
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1934, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 01/01/1934 - 12/31/1934
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Crandall Library, 1942, Crandall Free Library, Glens Falls, 01/01/1942 - 12/31/1942
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Toronto Art Gallery, 1944, Toronto Art Gallery, Toronto, 01/01/1944 - 12/31/1944
  • Corot to Picasso, American British Art Center, New York, 05/31/1944 - 06/23/1944
  • A loan exhibition of Degas for the benefit of the New York Infirmary, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 04/06/1949 - 05/14/1949
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1958, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 03/01/1958 - 03/31/1958
  • Unidentified Exhibition, County Museum of St. Louis, 1964, County Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 01/01/1964 - 12/31/1964
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1967, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 01/01/1967 - 12/31/1967
  • Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 05/08/1967 - 06/11/1967
  • Edgar Degas: the Reluctant Impressionist, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 06/19/1974 - 09/15/1974
  • Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
  • Modern Art at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/1985 - 01/05/1986
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990
  • Degas: the Portraits, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, 12/02/1994 - 03/05/1995; Kunsthalle Tübingen, Tübingen, 03/18/1995 - 06/18/1995
  • Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000
  • Degas at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/2005 - 11/27/2005
  • 32Q: 2700 Impressionism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 04/12/2016; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/14/2017 - 01/01/2050
  • Degas: A New Vision, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Melbourne, 06/24/2016 - 09/18/2016; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 10/16/2016 - 01/16/2017

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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