The portrait of Madame Camus, painted by Edgar Degas in 1869-70, depicts a music lover and performer who hosted musical evenings in her elegant Paris apartment. Degas, a lifelong friend of Madame Camus, produced two portraits of her in her home, both of which evoke her role as a music enthusiast. The work is part of Degas’ collection of inner circle portraits, which serve as a record of his travels, artistic collaborations, and domestic dramas.
During the years 1865-1870, Degas created numerous portraits, including Madame Camus at the Piano. In this particular portrait, Madame Camus is shown sitting in an armchair in her apartment, surrounded by musical instruments and sheet music. Her gaze is directed towards the viewer, conveying a sense of calm confidence, while the soft lighting in the painting adds a serene tone to the overall composition.
Through his art, Degas highlights Madame Camus’ passion for music and her social standing within Parisian society. The portrait not only represents a personal connection between Degas and his subject but also serves as a portrayal of the broader cultural context of music in nineteenth-century Parisian life.