Following his way of working,Edgar Degaschose themes for his paintings and produced more or less long series. The most famous are his works in which he focuses on ballet and his rehearsals, but there are other areas that were subject to a pictorial follow-up, such as his works of horses or female nudes in the bathroom.
But from the year 1880 he focused on an apparently unattractive theme for painting, such as figures of ironers. A theme to which he dedicated several paintings, including this canvas painted in oil in 1884 and which is currently exhibited at theMusée d'Orsay in Paris.
Why this topic? According to some art historians, it would correspond to a moment in which the painter wanted to become more attached to reality and the society of his time, thus moving away somewhat from a world as unreal as that of dance. In addition to the theme of ironers, he was combining it with his works dedicated to seamstresses.
Although there are other historians, that there is no greater interest in denouncing than in other previous works by Degas, and they are simply interested in that type of scenes because of the steam, the postures of the women or the masses of color provided by the representation of the garments on the ironing board or on the clothesline. And all those issues, by dealing with them serially, give you game to gocapturing different variations from a dynamic, chromatic or spatial point of view.
In this case we see a couple of women, one of whom is in the middle of ironing, while the other has been painted during a moment of rest, in which the woman yawns and stretches without any kind of blush.
Opt for a very simple composition, where the foreground is occupied by the ironing board arranged in an oblique perspective, so that a base is created that is a large white triangle on which the two stand out. women with contrasting colors. In addition, so that these two ironers visually star in the scene, the background and the stove that frames the scene also help.
The most interesting thing would be the color he uses, achieved from the search for new fillings, which reach a very interesting optical fusion to create masses such as the white of the garment on the ironing board, the pink and the the blue of the dresses, or the texture of the background, in which his dry brushstrokes can be seen, which even come to pose a game with the tone of the fabric itself.
That interest in the play of colors would be very much to the Impressionist taste, like the type of composition, however at the same time it silhouettes the figures, while the character of the anecdote that he paints, would relate it to the most realistic art. And it is that Degas is an impressionist painter, but many other things at the same time.