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The Millinery Shop

Impressionist painting of woman wearing green dress trying on hats.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Impressionist painting of woman wearing green dress trying on hats.


c. 1879-86


Edgar Degas
French, 1834-1917

About this artwork

Of at least fifteen pastels, drawings, and paintings that Edgar Degas created on this subject during the 1880s, The Millinery Shop is the largest and perhaps the most ambitious. As a result of its unusual cropping and tilted perspective, it seems to capture an unedited glimpse of the interior of a small nineteenth-century millinery shop. The identity of the young woman in the painting remains unclear: she may be a shop girl or a customer. In an early version of the composition, the woman is clearly intended to be a customer; she wears a fashionable dress, though her hat—a prerequisite token of bourgeois culture—is absent. In the final painting, however, the woman appears with her mouth pursed, as if around a pin, and her hands gloved, possibly to protect the delicate fabric of the hat she holds. Degas seems to have deliberately left her role as a creator or consumer ambiguous. She is totally absorbed in her activity and, like most of the women in Degas’s paintings, seems unaware of being watched. The bonnets that are displayed on the table next to her like a still life present an analogy to the artist’s creative process: where they are unfinished, so too is the painting.


On View, Gallery 226


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas


The Millinery Shop


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


100 × 110.7 cm (39 3/8 × 43 9/16 in.)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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