Combing the Hair (1895) by Edgar Degas

Combing the Hair - Edgar Degas - 1895

Artwork Information

TitleCombing the Hair
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions124 x 150 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationNational Gallery, London, UK

About Combing the Hair

“Combing the Hair,” an artwork by Edgar Degas dated 1895, exemplifies the Impressionist movement. The oil on canvas genre painting measures 124 x 150 cm and is housed in the National Gallery in London, UK. The piece is recognized for portraying an everyday scene with the distinctive brushstrokes and use of color that characterizes Impressionism.

The artwork captures intimate details of a private moment, centering on two female figures engaged in the act of hair grooming. The composition is dynamic and slightly asymmetrical, with the seated figure filling the left side of the canvas. She appears relaxed, leaning back with one arm draped over her forehead, suggesting a sense of ease and familiarity with this ritual.

The standing figure attends to the seated woman’s hair with a comb, embodying a role of service or care. The standing woman’s gestures and the angle of her body convey a sense of movement and dedication to her task. The warmth of the color palette, with its rich red and orange hues, lends the scene a vibrant, almost palpable energy, highlighting the physical and textured qualities of the hair being combed.

Notable in Degas’ work is the lack of explicit facial features which allows for more focus on their body language and the overall atmosphere rather than individual identities. The scene is devoid of a distinct background, eschewing detailed context in favor of concentrating on the figures and their interaction. This choice pushes viewers to immerse themselves in the tactile and emotional experience of the subjects rather than their specific surroundings.

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