Visit to a Museum

about 1879–90
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)


91.8 x 68 cm (36 1/8 x 26 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)





This canvas belongs to a group of pictures in which Degas painted women looking at art in museums. In reference to another work in the series, the perversely contradictory and impish Degas nonetheless remarked to British painter Walter Sickert that he wanted to “give the idea of that bored and respectfully crushed and impressed absence of sensation that women experience in front of paintings.”


Stamped, lower left: degas


May 6-8, 1918, 1st Degas atelier sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, lot 34, sold for 30,000 francs to Ambroise Vollard (b. 1867 - d. 1939), Durand-Ruel, Bernheim-Jeune, and Jacques Seligmann (b. 1858 - d. 1923), Paris, apparently for Seligmann [see note 1]; January 27, 1921, Seligmann sale, American Art Galleries, New York, lot 36, to C.W. Kraushaar, New York, possibly for Henry D. Hughes, Philadelphia [see note 2]; February 7, 1922, sold by Hughes to Durand-Ruel, New York (stock no. 4705); October 9, 1929, sold by Durand-Ruel to Gertrude (Mrs. George Cabot) Lee (b. 1879 - d. 1971), Westwood, MA; from Mrs. Lee to her niece, Betty Bartlett McAndrew (b. 1906 - d. 1986) and John McAndrew (b. 1904 - d. 1978), Wellesley, MA [see note 3]; 1969, gift of Mr. and Mrs. McAndrew to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 10, 1969)

[1] According to a letter from Caroline Durand-Ruel Godfroy of Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris, to the MFA (November 20, 2001). The painting was purchased in Vollard's name, but, according to Durand-Ruel's records, all four parties paid for it (Bernheim-Jeune, Durand-Ruel, and Vollard were experts at the sale). Seligmann acquired full possession of the paintings by 1920; in the prefatory note to the catalogue of his 1921 auction are statements by Durand-Ruel, Vollard, and Bernheim-Jeune attesting to his ownership of seventy-one paintings purchased at the Degas atelier sale.

[2] Henry D. Hughes acquired at least two other Degas paintings at the Seligmann sale of 1921 through New York dealers. It is therefore likely, though it has not been proved, that he acquired this painting through Kraushaar.

[3] Mrs. McAndrew first lent the painting to the MFA in 1964. Her mother was George C. Lee's sister; therefore she was Mrs. Lee's niece by marriage. More information on their relationship is in the MFA curatorial file.

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John McAndrew