Photo courtesy of wallyg at
Flickr Creative Commons.
Degas in New Orleans
  Artist Edgar Degas, considered one of the founders of the French Impressionist movement, was born in France, in 1834.  His father was French, but his mother was from New Orleans.  On the occasion of Edgar's birth, his father purchased a Creole cottage on Rampart Street in New Orleans and placed it in his son's name, to link his oldest son to his mother's home.  Celeste Musson Degas, Edgar's mother, died when he was young, but Edgar's maternal grandfather visited the family in Paris and Edgar maintained ties to his mother's city through correspondence with relatives there.  He visited New Orleans in 1872 and, although he stayed only five months, he created 22 works of art there, including the painting above, done at his uncle's cotton brokerage.  (Degas' uncle, Michael Musson, and two of his brothers, Rene and Achille Degas, are shown in the painting.)  Some say his full talent in the Impressionist genre didn't emerge until his visit to New Orleans.
"A Cotton Office in New Orleans" by Edgar Degas, 1873
   The Musson home, where Degas stayed during his visit to the city, is the only residence or studio in the world associated with the artist that is open to the public.  It is both a bed and breakfast and the home of the Edgar Degas Foundation, dedicated to preserving his legacy.  The house was constructed in 1852; period furnishings are displayed and reproductions of Degas' paintings fill the walls.  Guided tours are conducted by appointment.  The house has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Musson family tomb in St. Louis
No. 1 Cemetery, New Orleans.
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
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Block of buildings on Carondelet Street known as Factors Row, where Degas' uncle's cotton brokerage - the scene of "The Cotton Office" - was located.  Cotton brokers were known as cotton factors.  These factors acted, in essence, as agents for cotton planters, but they provided many other services, including extending credit and providing investment advice.  Many had warehouses which they leased to planters as storage for the cotton.  In the days when the international cotton trade was at its zenith, there were over 450 cotton factors in New Orleans.
This was the home of Degas' g-grandfather, Vincent Rillieux.  It's on Chartres Street and was built in the late 1700's, just after the great fire of 1794.  It served as home to three different New Orleans banks.  Since 1881, it's been occupied by Waldhorn & Adler Antiques.