Woman in a Café (c.1877) by Edgar Degas

Woman in a Café - Edgar Degas - c.1877

Artwork Information

TitleWoman in a Café
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1877
Mediumpastel
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection
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About Woman in a Café

“Woman in a Café,” created by French artist Edgar Degas around 1877, is an exquisite embodiment of Impressionism rendered in pastel, a medium known for its vivid color and textural possibilities. This genre painting, nestled within a private collection, illustrates the mundane scene of everyday life with an evocative perspective that is synonymous with Degas’s artistic vision.

The artwork showcases a lone woman seated at a table in what appears to be a café. She is dressed in attire characteristic of the late 19th century, with a red hairpiece accentuating her softly lit auburn hair, which suggests an ambient interior setting. The scene conveys an intimate atmosphere, as the woman seems engrossed in personal contemplation or waiting, underscored by the solitary candle and scattered playing cards before her. Degas’s expert use of pastels imbues the tableau with a sense of immediacy and fleeting impression; the café’s interior is depicted with loose, expressive strokes that capture the moment’s spontaneity and the ambiance of the surroundings. The light from outside filters through the curtains, establishing a play of light and shadow, a trademark characteristic of Impressionist paintings. The aesthetic choices in color, light, and composition articulate the transient nature of the scene, providing a glimpse into the social fabric of the time and the private moment of an individual.

The subtle nuances of the work, from the woman’s pensive expression to the hazy details of the café, reflect the genius of Edgar Degas and his contribution to the Impressionist movement. This artwork stands as a testament to his ability to transform ordinary moments into poignant, enduring works of art.

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