Duchessa di Montejasi with Her Daughters, Elena and Camilla
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
Place of Origin: France
Overall: 66 x 97.8 cm (26 x 38 1/2 in.) Framed: 88.9 x 121.9 x 7.6 cm (35 x 48 x 3 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)
Stéphanie Primicile Carafa, Marchesa di Cicerale and Duchessa di Montejasi, was the sister of Degas’s father. Their father, a Frenchman who fled to Naples during the French Revolution, eventually established a banking house there. This is the last of Degas’s great family portraits. It is also among the most surprising. The portrayal of the artist’s Aunt Fanny is without flattery, delicately balanced between austerity and empathy. Her frontal, static, focused image is contrasted with the lively bearing of her daughters, whose sense of movement is increased by the offhand way in which the artist painted, then wiped away, their portraits.
Probably given by the artist to his aunt, Stéphanie De Gas Primicile-Carafa, Marquesa di Cicerale and Duchessa di Montejasi (b. 1819 - d. 1901), Naples [see note 1]. 1923, sold by Vincent Imberti (dealer), Bordeaux, France to David David-Weill (b. 1871 - d. 1952), Paris and Neuilly-sur-Seine, France; by descent to his grandchildren, Paris; 2003, sold by the descendants of David David-Weill to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 25, 2003)
 The provenance information given here (through 1923) comes from Jean Sutherland Boggs et al., "Degas" (exh. cat., Paris, Ottawa, and New York, 1988/1989), p. 254, cat. no. 146.
Museum purchase with funds by exchange from the Tompkins Collection—Arthur Gordon Tompkins Fund, a Gift of Mrs. Robert B. Osgood in memory of Horace D. Chapin, and a Gift in memory of Governor Alvan T. Fuller by the Fuller Foundation; and from the Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, William Francis Warden Fund, Frank B. Bemis Fund, James E. Neill Memorial Fund, Fanny P. Mason Fund in memory of Alice Thevin, Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund, Tompkins Collection—Arthur Gordon Tompkins Fund, Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund, Frederick L. Jack Fund, Seth K. Sweetser Fund, M. Theresa B. Hopkins Fund, Harriet Otis Cruft Fund, Gift of Jessie H. Wilkinson—Jessie H. Wilkinson Fund, Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund, Grant Walker Fund, Helen B. Sweeney Fund, and European Paintings Deaccession Fund