Edgar Degas - Joséphine Gaujelin, 1867

Edgar Degas (Paris, 1834 - 1917, Paris)

Joséphine Gaujelin, 1867

Oil on canvas, 61.2 x 45.7 cm (24 1/8 x 18 in.) framed


Object details

Accession number



In the collection of the dealer Michel Manzi (1849–1915), Paris.
The dealers Eugene Glaenzer & Co, Paris and New York by 1904.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from Eugene Glaenzer & Co, New York on 18 March 1904 for $30,000 through Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), American art historian.


Signed and dated (upper left): Degas 1867


Minestère de la Maison de L'Empereur et des Beaux-Arts. Salon de 1869. Exh. cat. (Paris: Palais des Champs-Elyse?es, 1869), p. 90, no. 661. (as "Portrait of Mme G...")
John La Farge and August F. Jaccaci (eds.). Noteworthy Paintings in American Private Collections. vol. 1. (New York, 1909, reprint 1979), pp. 160-161, 247-254. (as "Portrait of a Woman")
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), p. 124. (as "Madame Gaujelin")
Stuart Preston. "Madame Gaujelin" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 52. (as "Madame Gaujelin")
Jean Sutherland Boggs. Portraits by Degas (Berkeley, 1962), pp. 30-32.
Richard T. Dickinson. "Degas' Madame Gaujelin." Fenway Court (Dec. 1967), pp. 57-67, ill. 58.
George L. Stout. Treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1969), pp. 48-49.
Rollin van N. Hadley et al. "Berenson and Mrs. Gardner: The Museum Years." Fenway Court (1974), p. 8.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 72-76.
Rollin van N. Hadley (ed.). The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner 1887-1924 (Boston, 1987), pp. 331-34, 357, 362, 370, 439-41, 443, 454, 455, 461.
Ann Dumas. Degas's Mlle. Fiocre in Context. (Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1988), p. 41.
Hilliard Goldfarb and Susan Sinclair. Isabella Stewart Gardner: Woman and the Myth. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1994), pp. 28-29.
Jill DeVonyar and Richard Kendall. Degas and the Dance. Exh. cat. (Detroit: Detroit Institute of Art and Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2002), pp. 47-50, pl. 48.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 194-95.
Jane Munro. Degas: A Passion for Perfection. Exh. cat. (Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), p. 60, fig. 46.

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Joséphine Gaujelin (or Gozelin) was a dancer at the Opéra in Paris and later an actor at the Théâtre du Gymnase. Degas used her as a model on several occasions, for example as a ballerina in his Classe de danse (Metropolitan Museum of Art). In this portrait, she appears in street clothes, sitting in her dressing room. Wrapped entirely in black, she sits rigidly, with arms clenched to her sides. The dour expression and reserved demeanor belie her reputation as a charismatic beauty. The portrait is almost deliberately unglamorous, although the intensity of the sitter’s gaze is compelling, if not disconcerting to some viewers. Gaujelin, who had commissioned the portrait, rejected it. However, Degas exhibited it in the Paris Salon of 1869 (titled Portrait de Mme G...). Mrs. Gardner heard that Gaujelin was angry that it was coming to America.

Isabella Stewart Gardner was not a collector of Impressionism, but Degas was an exception, undoubtedly because of his serious attention to historical painting. She may have seen his paintings at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893. In addition to this portrait, Mrs. Gardner also owned a drawing of a ballet dancer and four other drawings.

Source: Richard Lingner, "Portrait of Joséphine Gaujelin," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 195.


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