The Toilette after the Bath (c.1886 – c.1890) by Edgar Degas

The Toilette after the Bath - Edgar Degas - c.1886 - c.1890

Artwork Information

TitleThe Toilette after the Bath
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1886 - c.1890
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About The Toilette after the Bath

The artwork entitled “The Toilette after the Bath” is the creation of artist Edgar Degas, executed between circa 1886 and 1890. This piece constitutes a pastel work and is categorically considered as a nude painting (nu) within the artistic genre. Exemplifying the Impressionist movement—a hallmark of Degas’s style—the artwork currently resides in a private collection, far from public exhibition.

The artwork captures an intimate moment post-bath, presenting a subject engaged in a private act of self-care. The figure depicted is a woman who appears to be drying herself with a towel, captured mid-motion as she leans forward in a bathtub. The composition is remarkable for its candid, unidealized representation of the female form, a characteristic of Degas’s oeuvre. The viewpoint is unconventional and almost voyeuristic, with the audience granted a glimpse into a typically unseen personal ritual.

Degas has employed soft pastels to render the scene, a medium well-suited to capturing the ephemeral effects of light and color, which are central to Impressionist aesthetics. The color palette is delicate, with whites and blues dominating the composition and providing a sensation of freshness and purity associated with the act of bathing. Hues of coral and orange in the background contrast with the cooler tones, generating visual interest and depth.

True to the Impressionist interest in everyday life and fleeting moments, the artwork lacks the precise detail and polished finish of academic paintings, instead favoring a looser, more expressive technique. The artist’s brushstrokes are visible, allowing the texture of the pastel to contribute to the overall sensory experience of the piece. Consequently, the artwork serves as a testament to the Impressionist movement’s enduring fascination with capturing life’s transient beauty.

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