Who Was William Bell?
William Bell, an American, was the husband of Mathilde Musson, Edgar Degas’ cousin and daughter of Michel Musson. During the American Civil War, Bell was a spy for the Confederate Army. Following the fall of the Confederacy and the end of the war, Bell was involved in the cotton industry with Musson in New Orleans.
He is featured in Degas’ “Portraits in a New Orleans Cotton Office” as the man in the center who is showing cotton to a customer. Bell was also involved in the politics of New Orleans during the period of Reconstruction after the American Civil War.
William and Mathilde Bell had one daughter, Carrie, and sons, Sidney and baby William, at the time of Degas’ visit to New Orleans. They would have other children throughout the years, but these three would be the only ones to survive to adulthood.
The William Bell Suite is located in Degas II on the second floor above the gift shop. It is a 2-bedroom suite with a kitchen and bathroom with a large jacuzzi. It also has a balcony at the back of the home which overlooks the courtyard.