The house at 2306 Esplanade Avenue where Edgar Degas lived and painted from 1872 to 1873 has received the Maison des Illustres label from the French minister of culture.
This is the second site in the United States to be recognized in this way, along with Marguerite Yourcenar’s house in Maine. The label was created in 2011 to showcase “residences that preserve and pass down the memory of the people who lived in them, and who distinguished themselves in the political, social, and cultural history of France.”
Degas spent just six months in New Orleans with his mother’s Créole family, but his time there changed his career. Exhausted by the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, he had not painted for two years when he arrived in Louisiana. But in New Orleans he rediscovered his “creative energy,” according to his letters, kept by Tulane University. He brought back 4 drawings and 18 paintings, which are now considered Impressionist masterpieces.
The Portrait of Estelle Degas Musson, a painting of the artist’s cousin, was sent back to the United States in the 1960s, and is now on show at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Degas’ former studio is now home to a museum, and his family’s house, renovated by the Degas Foundation and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has become a bed & breakfast. The nine rooms are named after his cousins, sisters-in-law, and nieces, and the space also offers a wedding reception room.
Commenting on the new label, the French culture minister also confirmed that “a special sign would be created to mark the inauguration of the Degas House into the prestigious network of establishments granted labels by the French ministry of culture.”
=> Read our article on Edgar Degas’ time in Louisiana, Degas, an Impressionist in New Orleans.