Degas never painted portraits to commission but instead chose sitters from his family and friends. Hélène was the daughter of Henri Rouart, a Master Engineer and amateur landscape painter, who had exhibited with the Impressionists.
When Hélène was nine, Degas had painted a portrait of her sitting on her father’s knee. She was 23 and married when this portrait was painted, but Degas does not show her wedding ring, perhaps to emphasise her status as a daughter, rather than as a wife.
The postponed National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2020 sees Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study displayed at three locations across the UK. The opportunity to bring this hugely popular work to the public’s doorstep is being made possible by the generous support of Christie’s.
Each year the National Gallery collaborates with three partners across the UK to display a masterpiece from the collection. The tour reflects the National Gallery’s commitment to ensuring its collection is shared and enjoyed, and enables audiences to access a masterpiece in their own locality.