Woman Combing Her Hair in front of a Mirror (c.1877) by Edgar Degas

Woman Combing Her Hair in front of a Mirror - Edgar Degas - c.1877

Artwork Information

TitleWoman Combing Her Hair in front of a Mirror
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationNorton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA, US

About Woman Combing Her Hair in front of a Mirror

The artwork titled “Woman Combing Her Hair in front of a Mirror” is an oil on canvas painting by the artist Edgar Degas, created circa 1877. As an exemplar of the Impressionism movement, this portrait is a testament to the style’s focus on capturing the nuances of light and the fleeting moments of everyday life. Currently housed at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, the piece resonates with the characteristics of the genre, including visible brushstrokes, an emphasis on accurate depiction of light, and a sense of movement.

In this artwork, Degas presents a woman intimately engaged in the act of combing her hair. The subject is viewed from a perspective that includes the reflection from a mirror, suggesting a private, introspective moment. The figure is partially clothed in a white garment with delicate lace trim, seated against a dark, indistinct background that serves to draw focus towards her and her actions. Her expression, partially obscured by her hands, appears contemplative, underscoring the personal and everyday nature of the scene.

Degas’s use of light and shadow, as well as his loose yet deliberate brushstrokes, converge to create a sense of immediacy and the transitory quality of the moment. The soft contours of her posture and the contrast between the warm tones of her skin and the cool, more muted colors of the backdrop and her attire underscore the quiet, ephemeral atmosphere of the moment Degas has captured.

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