Edgar Degas, a prominent French artist, created a series of monotypes known as the brothel monotypes depicting prostitutes in brothels. The monotype Room in a Brothel is a notable piece from this series, showcasing a scantily clad figure in a chemise waiting in a brothel. Degas was renowned for his art in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and drawing, with a focus on creating simple yet appealing images that revealed brushstrokes and unblended colors but still maintained a realistic representation.
Degas heavily relied on the use of social class and sentiment in his art, which he achieved through the gestures and actions of his subjects, including his ballerina muses and the prostitutes he depicted. Prostitution was a common theme in the works of Degas and his contemporary Edouard Manet. In addition to the brothel monotypes, Degas also created paintings such as “The Rehearsal,” which portrayed ballerinas in an urban ballet studio.
Degas created two types of monotypes, light-field, and dark-field, which he used to achieve different visual effects in his works. Picasso is known to have acquired nine of Degas’ brothel monotypes for his personal art collection. Overall, Room in a Brothel and the brothel monotypes as a series showcase Degas’ ability to create evocative, realistic representations of the social realities of his time.