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“After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself” by Edgar Degas

After the Bath, Woman drying herself - Edgar Degas - National Gallery

“After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself” by Edgar Degas depicts a woman sitting on white towels spread over a wicker chair, with her back to the viewer. Her body is arched and slightly twisted, creating tension in her back, accentuated by the deep line of her backbone. This pastel drawing is part of a series of drawings, preliminary sketches and completed works in pastels and oils by Degas from this period that depict women bathing. Degas, said, he intended to create a feeling in the viewer:

“as if you looked through a keyhole.” 

Degas examined the human figure with its many nuances in his series of nude bathers. Degas set up tubs and basins in his studio and asked his models to go through their usual routines during their baths and personal care. He captured them in their natural poses and from different perspectives to reveal new compositions. Degas has created an intimate and spontaneous piece of art that captures the dynamic act of bathing.

Edgar Degas was prolific in paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He was fond of the subject of dance, and more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although Degas rejected the term, preferring to be called a Realist. He was masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his various masterpieces of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes.

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Essential Facts:

  • Title:                        After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself
  • Artist:                      Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas
  • Year:                        1895
  • Medium:                Pastel on wove paper mounted on millboard
  • Dimensions:          103.5 × 98.5 cm (40.7 × 38.8 in)
  • Museum:                The National Gallery, London

Artist Essential Facts:

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“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

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Photo Credit: Edgar Degas [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons