The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans (1873) by Edgar Degas

The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans - Edgar Degas - 1873

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Cotton Exchange in New Orleans
ArtistEdgar Degas
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions73 x 92 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationMusee des Beaux-Arts de Pau, Pau, France

About The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans

The artwork “The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans” was created by Edgar Degas in 1873. This oil on canvas belongs to the Impressionism art movement and is classified as a genre painting. It measures 73 by 92 centimeters and is currently housed at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Pau in Pau, France.

The artwork depicts a busy scene inside the New Orleans Cotton Exchange. It features a group of men engaged in various activities, suggesting the bustle and activity of a workday in the trading room. In the foreground, a man sits absorbed in reading a newspaper, giving a sense of pause amidst the surrounding activity. Another individual, standing by the counter, is occupied with weighing cotton, which is depicted in significant detail, implying its central role to the scene and the economy it represents.

Beyond the central figures, the room is filled with men conducting transactions and discussions. Degas skillfully uses perspective to draw the viewer’s eye into the room, showcasing his attention to depicting contemporary life and working environments. The artist employs a muted color palette with emphasis on browns, greens, and whites, creating a sense of naturalistic lighting and space. His loose brushwork is characteristic of the Impressionist style, focusing on capturing the essence of the scene rather than fine detail.

Overall, the artwork narrates the dynamic of commerce and the importance of the cotton industry during the era, while also giving a glimpse into the dress and demeanor of the gentlemen that frequented such an establishment. Through its composition and technique, the painting offers insight into the economic and social fabric of 19th-century New Orleans, as observed by Degas during his visit to his maternal relatives’ city.

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