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Woman Drying Herself after the Bath, 1876-77

Edgar Degas

French, 1834-1917
Pastel over monotype on paper
18 x 23-3/4 in. (45.7 x 60.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

One critic called Degas’s submissions to the 1877 Impressionist exhibition “precise notes on the intimate, daily story of our epoch.” None was more intimate or precise than this scene of a woman fresh from her bath. The picture seems to have been among the artist’s first experiments with the use of pastel over monotype. After applying ink to a metal plate with his fingertips, Degas printed two sheets from the plate, producing a pair of compositionally identical “drawings.” He worked up the second of these with pastels, creating the luminous effects of the starched petticoat at right, the water in the tub, and the model’s bare flesh. The ink of the underlying monotype remains visible only in the lower left-hand corner, just above the artist’s signature.

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