A Roman Beggar Woman (1857) by Edgar Degas

A Roman Beggar Woman - Edgar Degas - 1857

Artwork Information

TitleA Roman Beggar Woman
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions100.3 x 75.2 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationBirmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK

About A Roman Beggar Woman

The artwork “A Roman Beggar Woman” by Edgar Degas, created in 1857, is a prime example of the Realism art movement. This oil on canvas portrait measures 100.3 by 75.2 centimeters and is currently housed at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in Birmingham, UK. The painting is a poignant depiction that resonates with the Realist commitment to portray everyday life without idealization.

The artwork presents a profile view of an elderly woman seated against a stark, shadowed background that contrasts with the warmly lit space before her. She is dressed in modest, somewhat tattered clothing, with a patterned shawl wrapped around her shoulders, conveying a sense of weathered experience and perhaps the straits of poverty. The woman’s face is marked with the lines of age and reflects a life of hardship. Her expression is one of contemplation, tinged with resignation, which elicits an empathetic response from the viewer.

Attention to detail is evident in the rendering of textures in the woman’s attire, from the frayed edges of her garments to the weave of her shawl. Degas has captured the material presence of the beggar woman with a poignant clarity that underscores the Realist aim to represent subjects truthfully. The painting is remarkable for its ability to communicate a narrative and emotional depth through the subtle interplay of light, color, and pose, which together reveal a profound human experience captured in a single moment.

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