[Alternative Muses] Coming and Going: Edgar Degas/Margaret Fuller Mashup

Ironing Woman by Edgar Degas, 1869

1869: Ironing Woman by Edgar Degas (born on 7/19/1834)

“I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression.”-Margaret Fuller (died on 7/19/1850)

Dancers Practicing at the Bar by Edgar Degas, 1877

1877: Dancers Practicing at the Bar by Edgar Degas

6 thoughts on “[Alternative Muses] Coming and Going: Edgar Degas/Margaret Fuller Mashup

  1. Well, maedez, you have done it again – I have not seen that Degas painting before and am so glad you posted it. What a poignant and beautiful painting of a woman ironing. Those white linens behind and all around her makes one think of how overwhelming the work must have seemed to her. But the white sheets as background and foreground also make her the center of the picture. I have to wonder if Degas saw past the possibilities of a painting to the understanding of never-ending work for the woman. Somehow I don’t think so.


    • Thanks, Judy! I agree that it is poignant–I’d actually say that its beauty rests on that fact. At first glance it almost seems like such a straightforward depiction, but the more you look at it the more there is to see.

      I think that Degas was most certainly aware of all of the never-ending domestic labor that most women engaged in throughout their lives. Whether or not he held any sympathy for them is my big question.


  2. Given the times, maedez, life was hard for the working class. Whether he felt sympathy or not is probably beside the point on my part – he did leave a legacy of art that is not only a record of women’s lives but a treasure to behold.


    • Oh, totally. And life was hard for women of all but the very top, top tier. It is amazing the amount of housework that went on in the average Victorian home, and how many people were often involved. The house we live in is from that era, and, even with modern conveniences, it would easily take me 4 or 5 hours a day to keep this place looking great.

      His work is a treasure…that is the perfect word to describe it.


  3. I know what you mean about the time it takes to keep up appearances, maedez. I do love Victorians because of the quality that was put into them. I once lived in an 1864 13 room Victorian house. That was when I was a bit younger. Even with the Swiffers and central vac it is a constant effort to keep the southwest pink dust out of the Tucson house or at least tamped down. Never mind the termites, carpenter ants and scorpions.


    • Oh, it is so time consuming. The fact that I also have animal hair to pick up just adds to the misery of the housework. The floors are original to the house, and so gorgeous…but also uneven, with crevices for dirt, dust, and Labrador hair. The windowsills collect dust and dirt. It is by turns too drafty and stiflingly hot, even with air conditioning. But the house is a gem, solid and beautifully-detailed. We get ants and fruit flies, but mostly ants. Way too many ants. I feel your pain with the carpenter ants and the scorpions (yikes!) and the dust. It seems endless sometimes, but it is worth it for the character.

      I bet that 1864 house was wonderful! This one has 11 rooms, 9 of which are original to the house. And a creepy, dank basement that I refuse to frequent. In 2010, we very nearly moved into an 1864 Italianate house that originally served as a doctor’s house and practice. Our rooms would have been in the latter.


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