Edmondo and Thérèse Morbilli
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
116.5 x 88.3 cm (45 7/8 x 34 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)
In 1863 Degas’s sister Thérèse married her first cousin Edmondo Morbilli, who lived in Naples. This majestic portrait was probably painted in 1865 during the couple’s visit to Paris after the loss of a child expected in early 1864. Thérèse sits, literally and figuratively, in the shadow of her husband, and Degas contrasted her worried expression with Edmondo’s attitude of self-assurance. The artist set off the subtle grays and blacks of their clothing against the simple, ocher-and-gray drapery behind them and the richly embroidered Islamic textile on the table, which recalls portraits from the Italian Renaissance.
Until 1917, with the artist; 1917/1918, to his brother, René de Gas (b. 1845 - d. 1926), Paris [see note 1]; November 10, 1927, posthumous René de Gas sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, lot 71, to Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. 1930, Wildenstein and Co., New York; 1930, sold by Wildenstein to Robert Treat Paine, 2nd (b. 1861 - d. 1943), Boston [see note 2]; 1931, gift of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd, to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 15, 1931) NOTES:  Degas did not sell his family portraits but kept them in his studio until his death in 1917. His brother, René de Gas, removed this and other portraits prior to the sales of the studio contents, which took place in 1918.  In the brief article "Paine Lends Degas to Boston Museum," Art News 28 (August 16, 1930), p. 4, it is noted that "the painting was purchased a few weeks ago, from the Wildenstein Galleries by Mr. Paine."
Gift of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd