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Cottage Destinations: The Degas House
Take a tour of this historic gem in New Orleans for a dose of art, culture and romantic style.
As I walked into Edgar Degas’ studio,  with the cold green-and-white hexagon-tiled floors beneath my feet, the stifling rain continued to beat a solemn pitter-patter on the rooftop. A hazy glow shone through the large, white-cased windows overlooking New Orleans’ Esplanade Avenue. My eyes quickly went to an antique gold Baroque mirror hung from the... Keep Scrolling
Written and photographed by Kristen Wheeler


As I walked into Edgar Degas’ studio,  with the cold green-and-white hexagon-tiled floors beneath my feet, the stifling rain continued to beat a solemn pitter-patter on the rooftop. A hazy glow shone through the large, white-cased windows overlooking New Orleans’ Esplanade Avenue.

a brick patio with fairy lights and side porch

bedroom belonging to Degas
A ROOM HE CREATED AND LIVED IN during his stay in the Big Easy, Degas’ studio is the perfect place to let the inspiration flow.
Edgar Degas' sketches on paper hanging on a bedroom wall
DEGAS DREW MANY SKETCHES before he committed to a painting.

My eyes quickly went to an antique gold Baroque mirror hung from the picture rail with sketches for Degas’ paintings on yellowed paper on either side. A floral, milk-glass lamp rested amid a collection of wooden palettes, used pastels, burnt candlesticks, bits of charcoal, fermented oil paints, horse-hair brushes, glass water jars and rusty palette knives. Petite silver-framed family portraits stood among the assorted drawing tools and a small, frail, wooden stool sat all alone under the flat desk with decorative pedestal legs.

art studio corner in Degas house
VARIOUS ARTIST TOOLS OF THE TIME are strewn about the old wooden desk.

Edgar Degas art supplies

Taking a deep breath of the hot, musty air, I closed my eyes and listened to the melody of oily pastels smearing across parchment paper. I could almost hear Degas fidgeting in his seat, overwhelmed with inspiration in this exquisitely dark Crescent City.

Related Reading: Tour Historic New Orleans

History

Originally built in 1852, the Musson family mansion was known as one of the most impressive residences in the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood. It was split into two residences in the 1920s, and after an extensive restoration project and subsequent purchase of the second home where Edgar Degas’ studio was located, the Edgar Degas House Museum and Bed and Breakfast was formed.

replica sketches of Edgar Degas' work
PASTELS WERE DEGAS’ MEDIUM OF CHOICE. Replica sketches for some of his most famous New Orleans works are displayed on the walls.
Degas House museum family timeline
THE DEGAS AND MUSSON FAMILY TIMELINE is shown on the wall of the museum.

Edgar Degas lived in the Musson family home (his maternal side of the family) with his brother René from October 1872 to March 1873 and created numerous works, including A Cotton Office in New Orleans, The Song Rehearsal, Woman Seated on a Balcony, four drawings and five letters.

antique wradrobe mirror and day bed in Degas House
ALL ROOMS IN THE MAIN HOUSE are named after Musson and Degas family members.

Appeal

The Edgar Degas House Museum is the only extant home of Degas open to the general public. Guided tours by one of Degas’ great-grandnieces and a gourmet, home-cooked, Creole-style breakfast await B & B guests and others who partake in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can even participate in “Painting with Degas” with one of the great-grandnieces, a private or group painting class for artists and non-artists alike in the very same space where Degas himself painted some of the world’s most beloved masterpieces.

Culture

A “gumbo” of true Southern hospitality and unique history blended with a dash of luxurious Creole lifestyle, this New Orleans B & B has a flavor all its own.

antique four-poster bed and crystal chandelier in a bedroom at Degas House
The guest rooms are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the historic New Orleans home which has been turned into a bed and breakfast.

The rooms and suites are named after the Musson-Degas family members, and the
B & B boasts a lovely courtyard, grand parlors and a charming view of historic Esplanade Avenue.

claw foot tub in the Degas House

large window with heavy curtains in the Degas house
THIS BEAUTIFUL LARGE WINDOW is the setting of Degas’ famous painting Woman Seated on a Balcony.

Guests are treated like family and personally shown their room and its amenities, offered a glass of wine and given a brief tour of the home along with tourist recommendations.

front porch of the Degas House in new orleans
THIS BEAUTIFUL LARGE WINDOW is the setting of Degas’ famous painting Woman Seated on a Balcony.

I recommend the artist loft, the Gaston Artist Garret Room, for the coziest and most immersive experience. The Estelle Suite, where Woman Seated on a Balcony was painted of Mathilde Musson Bell on its balcony, is also quite cozy and luxurious. For more information and to book your tour, visit degashouse.com

Ready for more travel inspo? Check out this Austin Cafe with vintage charm or tour historic Rose Hill Mansion in South Carolina lowcountry.

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