Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town (c. 1876-78) by Edgar Degas

Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town - Edgar Degas - 1878

Artwork Information

TitleLaundresses Carrying Linen in Town
ArtistEdgar Degas
MediumOil on Paper
Dimensions46 x 61 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town

The artwork titled “Laundresses Carrying Linen in Town” was painted by Edgar Degas in 1878. Created with oil on paper, the painting is an embodiment of the Impressionist movement, with dimensions of 46 x 61 cm. This genre painting was emblematic of Degas’s interest in capturing the lives of working-class individuals and is currently held in a private collection.

The artwork reveals the back profiles of two laundresses, each burdened with heavy linen. One is portrayed slightly ahead of the other, creating a sense of depth and movement through the scene. The figure in the foreground is turned towards the viewer, her face partly visible, allowing us to engage with her expression of exertion. The second figure is more obscured, her identity hidden, and she becomes an echo of the labour and toil represented by her companion.

Degas employs a rich, contrasting palette, with warm yellows and ambers that form the background, accentuating the solidarity and physical effort of the laborers in their dark attire. The atmospheric use of color and light is characteristic of Impressionism, and Degas’s deft brushwork captures the fleeting qualities of everyday life. There is an intimate quality to the portrayal of the mundane task, with the artist focusing on the physicality and routine of the labor rather than an idealized depiction of the subjects. The hinted narrative and the attention to the realistic aspects of the women’s work are a testament to the genre painting traditions that captivate ordinary moments in life with a sense of dignity and earnestness.

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