Laundry Girls Ironing (1884) by Edgar Degas

Laundry Girls Ironing - Edgar Degas - 1884

Artwork Information

TitleLaundry Girls Ironing
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris, France

About Laundry Girls Ironing

The artwork “Laundry Girls Ironing” is a genre painting by Edgar Degas, created in 1884. It is an oil on canvas piece, portraying the daily life of women workers during the 19th century. Known for his contributions to the Impressionist movement, Degas often depicted scenes from modern life. This particular painting is housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France, and exemplifies the artist’s keen interest in the ordinary activities of Parisians.

In the artwork, two women are captured in the midst of their labor-intensive task of ironing. The composition shows one woman standing while yawning and stretching, with her hand behind her head, suggesting either the end of a long work shift or a brief respite from her fatiguing job. She holds a bottle in her left hand, perhaps indicating the need for a drink as a form of relief. Next to her is another woman, who is bent over an ironing board, focusing intently on her task. She appears absorbed in her work, ironing a piece of white fabric that sprawls over the ironing table.

The setting is depicted with loose, expressive brushstrokes characteristic of the Impressionist style, where precise detail is forsaken for the overall impression of light and movement. The soft edges and the blend of colors convey the heat and the modest atmosphere of the work environment. Degas’ masterful use of light and shadow brings a sense of depth and dimensionality to the scene, while the facial expressions and body language of the women add to the narrative of their daily toil. The arrangement of irons in the foreground further emphasizes the labor-intensive nature of their work. It is a scene that reflects the social realities of the time, when employment often involved physical hardship, especially for working-class women.

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