After the Bath (1884) by Edgar Degas

After the Bath - Edgar Degas - 1884

Artwork Information

TitleAfter the Bath
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

About After the Bath

“After the Bath,” a pastel on paper artwork created in 1884, is the work of renowned artist Edgar Degas, a significant figure in the Impressionism movement. This nude painting (nu) is held in the prestigious collection of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and exemplifies Degas’ interest in the human form and the candid depiction of everyday activities.

The artwork portrays a solitary woman in the intimate act of drying herself after a bath. The subject sits angled away from the viewer, her body positioned in a diagonal that guides the gaze across the composition. Her arm is raised as she attends to her back with a towel, creating a sense of movement.

Degas’ mastery in rendering the textures of skin and fabric is evident, as seen in the contrast between the softness of the woman’s flesh and the plush towel she holds. The room is defined by cursory details, allowing the audience to focus on the subject’s form and the act of bathing as an ordinary yet personal ritual. The backdrop, likely a patterned wallpaper or hanging fabric, is rendered with the characteristic softness and blending of colors that typify pastel work, and it complements the delicate modeling of the figure.

This piece manifests Degas’ skill in composition and his ability to capture ordinary moments with grace and sensitivity, which are defining characteristics of his contribution to the Impressionist movement. The soft pastel medium augments the ethereal quality of the scene, inviting the audience to appreciate the transient beauty of mundane experiences.

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