Edgar Degas was a French artist who was part of the Impressionist group. He was known for his depictions of ballet dancers, laundresses, milliners, and women bathing. In his painting “The Baker’s Wife,” originally intended as a portrait of Edouard Manet and his wife, Degas changed it to honor his friends and included Mme. Manet playing the piano.
Degas received traditional academic style training with an emphasis on line and draftsmanship. He used photographs and sketches as preliminary steps for his paintings and was known for his experimental and vivid use of color. Although a member of the Impressionist movement, Degas wasn’t particularly fond of this label and preferred to be known as a “realist.”
“The Baker’s Wife,” painted in 1885, shows a woman dressed in dark clothing standing beside an oven holding a tray of bread. On the left side of the painting, Madame Manet plays the piano. The painting was displayed in the Impressionist exhibition of 1885 and showcases Degas’ ability to layer colors and capture the everyday lives of working-class people.