Edmondo and Thérèse Morbilli

Edmondo and Thérèse Morbilli, about 1865
Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917
Oil on canvas, 116.5 x 88.3 cm (45 7/8 x 34 3/4 in.)
Gift of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd 1931, Boston Museum of Fine Arts #31.33

"Degas's sister Thérèse married her first cousin Edmondo Morbilli in 1863. Degas painted their portrait about two years later, combining, as so often in his early work, traditional elements with modern ones--the dignified frontality and green curtain of a 16th-century Italian court portrait with the intimate, overlapping pose of a daguerrotype photographed. The result is an unusually penetrating likeness. Degas never sold his family portraits, and this one remained with descendants until 1927." (From the info card)

The museum website expands:
"This majestic portrait was probably painted in 1865 during the couple's visit to Paris after the loss of a child expected in early 1864. Thérèse sits, literally and figuratively, in the shadow of her husband, and Degas contrasted her worried expression with Edmondo's attitude of self-assurance. The artist set off the subtle grays and blacks of their clothing against the simple, ocher-and-gray drapery behind them and the richly embroidered Islamic textile on the table, which recalls portraits from the Italian Renaissance."