Woman drying herself after Degas bath

Woman drying herself after Degas bath
Woman drying herself after Degas bath

Within the entire pictorial production ofEdgar Degaspossibly the most famous images of him are the paintings starring ballet dancers, such as The Dance Class. However, one of the common denominators of much of his work, regardless of the theme represented, is the voyeuristic nature of his creations. A good example is this work that bears the explicit title of Woman drying herself after the bath, since it is nothing more than that intimate scene that the artist presents us.

Woman drying herself after the Degas bath

Woman drying herself after Degas bath

This character can also be seen in the aforementioned dance-themed works. As for example in his work Ballet Dancers, where he shows us the girls but not in their brilliant attitude of dancing, but rather he chooses to represent them the moment in which they are resting, already exhausted and looking for a bit of relaxation.

That is to say, it is as if he looked at the most intimate thing through a hole and then transferred it to the painting. This is how you have to understand this Woman drying herself after the bath. This is also helped by the technique and materials chosen to carry out the work, since it is a paper with a cardboard support painted with pastel paints. That is, as immediate as possible, as if taking a photo clandestinely.

The theme of women bathing or in the moments before andsubsequent years was the subject of Degas attention on countless occasions. Usually showing them from very curious frames, almost always from high points of view. The similarity with the photograph is not accidental. In fact, Degas was fascinated by this new emerging art at the time, since we are talking about the end of the 19th century, because this painting was made between 1890 and 1895. In particular, he closely followed the work of a pioneer of photography,Eadweard Muybrigde, an author who coincidentally was very influential in the work of another later painter such as Marcel Duchamp, who was inspired by him to create canvases such as Nude descending a ladder.

The artist here presents the woman as surprised at the moment of drying her hair, as if the painter had passed by, and had taken a picture of her. The spirit is the same, but the difference is that it is a painting, and yet it has a unique air of spontaneity. That spontaneity is the magic of Degas, because creations like this really took him a long time to work on. For this, it is useful to know that he began this type of work on a single sheet of paper, but it was impossible for him to reduce the scene to that size and he had to add more sheets as he painted, in this case until it reached a size of approximately one square meter (104 x 98cm).

He himself denied that his creations were spontaneous, and defined them as the fruits of a work of reflection and study of the great masters. He said that he did not know anything about inspiration, but about work.

The result ofthis work are works as beautiful as the one we see in the image, and whose original can be seen in the National Gallery in London.

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