LETTERS READ: Welcome!

The ongoing series in which local performers interpret personal letters written by culturally vital individuals from various times and Louisiana communities. Performances are free and open to the general public. Ordinarily, readings are live. Due to COVID-19, current programming is podcast, listen HERE

The 2021 Season:

A Cotton Office in New Orleans
A Cotton Office in New Orleans by Edgar Degas, painted in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1873. The painting is in the collection of Musee des Beaux-Arts de Pau, Pau, France.

March 25: The Letters of Edgar Degas

A podcast of personal letters from Edgar Degas surrounding his 4-month stay in Reconstruction-era New Orleans.

LISTEN HERE.

Christopher Kamenstein reads as Degas. Audio production is by Steve Chyzyk and Sonic Canvas studio. The event is emceed by stationer and project director Nancy Sharon Collins.

This podcast is hosted by Pitot House and co-promoted by Alliance Française de La Nouvelle-Orléans. Letters Read fiscal sponsor is Antenna.

Join us for an intimate listen to thoughts and emotions experienced by Edgar Degas as he visits his mother’s family in the Crescent City as it strives to heal post-antebellum wounds after the American Civil War. Business, money, family, property ownership, class, race, and privilege, all play important roles in this compelling story.

In late 1872, Degas accompanied his brother René to New Orleans where he observed his paternal family’s business managing the post-Civil War cotton trade. The painting used to illustrate this online event is the oft cited depiction of his time here. It captures a moment during the decline of his uncle Michel Musson’s business, the Cotton Office. Which went bankrupt shortly thereafter.

Upon his return to France early in 1873, Edgar learned that René had also bankrupted their own father’s banking business.

It was about this time and occasioned by the family’s multiple financial misfortunes that Degas turned his trade as a serious painter into a successful livelihood.