In the 1880s Degas created an important series of paintings and pastels centered on the contemporary subject of fashionable women in millinery shops. However, he here eschews the documentary in order to achieve another goal: At the moment, it is fashionable to paint pictures where you can see what time it is, like in a sundial. A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. When you always make your painting perfectly plain you end up by boring people.

—Edgar Degas