Edgar Degas' ‘Femme se peignant' (c.1887-1890) (translated as ‘Woman combing her hair') is a significant addition to the Gallery's permanent collection of British and International Modern art, including an existing collection of continental artworks by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists including Paul Cézanne, Edouard Vuillard, Andrè Derain, Pablo Picasso and Gino Severini.

The charcoal drawing, created on tracing paper with red chalk highlights, has always remained in private hands and has a fascinating provenance. At a time of surging interest amongst influential dealers in Degas’ work, ‘Femme se peignant’ was acquired directly from the artist by the French dealer Ambrose Vollard who published it alongside several other large charcoal works in a celebratory volume of Degas’ work in 1914.

The drawing was then purchased by the much admired and unconventional socialite Gladys Deacon, a prolific female collector during the 1910s and 1920s who moved in artistic and aristocratic circles and had friendships with artists and writers including Auguste Rodin and Marcel Proust. Deacon was famous for her beauty and is said to have captivated figures including Proust, Wilhelm Crown Prince of Russia, RC Trevelyan, Anatole France and Hermann von Keyserling. In her art collection were other works by Degas, several sculptures by Rodin, and an oil painting by Toulouse-Lautrec. She also sat for Giovanni Boldini in 1901.

In 1921, Deacon became the Duchess of Marlborough, marrying the 9thDuke of Marlborough after his divorce from Consuelo Vanderbilt and taking residence at Blenheim Palace, from which she was later evicted. After her death in 1977 at a mental health institution in Northampton ‘Femme se peignant’ was purchased at auction by the late owner Stephen Brod. Latterly, Pallant House Gallery was chosen by the recipient of Brod’s estate to receive the work in lieu of Inheritance Tax through the AiL scheme. The deal was brokered by Sotheby’s.

Simon Martin, Artistic Director, commented: ‘We are delighted by the acquisition of this remarkable Impressionist drawing, which is a very significant enhancement to Pallant House Gallery’s permanent collection. We are extremely grateful to the executor of Brod’s estate, the Arts Council and Acceptance in Lieu panel for choosing to allocate this to a regional gallery where it will be available to all, transforming our holdings of continental art. It will enable us to demonstrate the profound influence of Degas on British artists, in particular his friend Walter Sickert, but also to explore the story of Gladys Deacon, one of the most fascinating female collectors of the 20th century.’

Edward Harley, Chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel said: “The Acceptance in Lieu scheme continues to enrich our public collections. I am delighted that this exceptional drawing has been allocated to Pallant House Gallery.”

Edgar Degas’ ‘Femme se peignant’ (c.1887–1890) will be on display at Pallant House Gallery from 15 April 2016 – August 2016.


Notes to Editors:

Similar works from Degas’ series on tracing paper exist in museums and institutions in Europe and North America, including in the Musee d’Orsay, Paris and the Fogg Museum at Harvard in Massachusetts, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme is administered by the Arts Council. The Acceptance in Lieu Panel, chaired by Edward Harley, advises on whether property accepted in lieu is of suitable importance and offered at a value which is fair to both nation and taxpayer.  AiL enables taxpayers to pay inheritance tax by transferring important works of art and other important heritage objects into public ownership. The taxpayer is given the full open market value of the item, which then becomes the property of a public museum, archive or library. See more here.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Pallant House Gallery is a unique combination of an historic Queen Anne townhouse and contemporary extension, housing one of the best collections of Modern British art in the country. Widely acclaimed for its innovative temporary exhibitions and exemplary Learning and Community Programme which has inclusion at its heart, the Gallery has won numerous awards since re-opening in 2006, including the Gulbenkian Prize, the largest for arts and cultural organisations in the country.