The Cotton Office in New Orleans is an 1873 oil painting by Edgar Degas. In it, Degas depicts the moment when his uncle Michel Musson's cotton brokerage business went bankrupt in an
economic crash, according to Michael McMahon of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The firm was swamped by the postwar growth of the much larger Cotton Exchange. In the painting, Musson is seen
examining raw cotton for its quality while Degas' brother Rene reads The Daily Picayune. It carried the bankruptcy news. Another brother, Achille, rests against a window wall at left
while others, including Musson's partners, go about their business.
The Cotton Office in New Orleans was the first painting by Degas to be purchased by a museum, and the first by an Impressionist. Degas' sale of the piece marked a turning point in his career as he moved from being a struggling, unrecognized artist to a recognized and financially stable artist, according to Marilyn Brown in her book Degas and the Business of Art: The Cotton Office in New Orleans.
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