Who Was Désirée?
Désirée Musson was one of Michel Musson’s daughters and sister to Mathilde Bell and Estelle deGas. One of Edgar Degas’ cousins, she lived in this house along with the Musson and deGas families at the time of Degas’ visit in 1872-73. The room that bears her name is where she actually lived, which has been documented.
During Degas’ visit, she was likely the subject of the painting “The Nurse” and possibly “Young Woman Seated in a Garden”. She lived in the house on Esplanade with her entire family. Because Edgar Degas seldom titled his works of art, the identity of his subjects is often speculated and debated.
Désirée is thought to be the model for “The Invalid [Convalescent]” although scholars debate the origin of the painting and the validity of this claim. As Désirée was sick throughout Degas’ stay in New Orleans, the likelihood of this being a portrait of her is often suggested. The city suffered from unsanitary conditions that resulted in numerous epidemics of yellow and scarlet fever which claimed the lives of several of the Musson family members and forced many of the citizens to battle illnesses throughout their lives.
Désirée remainded unmarried her entire life.
Desiree Room and Bath at Degas House are shown below:
Overlooking our picturesque courtyard, The Desiree Room features a splendid four-post queen-size bed and elegant draperies. The real gem, however, is the bathroom, where a deep, two-person Jacuzzi tub provides a perfect retreat for romance and relaxation. The bathroom also contains a standing shower.