Woman Ironing (c.1882 – c.1886) by Edgar Degas

Woman Ironing - Edgar Degas - c.1882 - c.1886

Artwork Information

TitleWoman Ironing
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1882 - c.1886
Mediumpastel
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection
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About Woman Ironing

The artwork known as “Woman Ironing” is a testament to the mastery of French artist Edgar Degas, created in the period from approximately 1882 to 1886. Degas, celebrated for his contributions to Impressionism, has employed pastel to manifest this genre painting—a snapshot of everyday life. The work refrains from the grandeur of historical or mythological themes, focusing instead on the commonplace task of ironing. Currently, this piece of art is housed within a private collection, thus limiting public viewing opportunities.

“Woman Ironing” portrays a solitary female figure engrossed in the task of ironing clothes. The pastel medium allows for soft textural nuances, capturing the interplay of light and shadow with a delicate touch that is characteristic of Degas’s style. The use of color is subtle, with muted tones prevailing throughout the composition, and yet there’s a vividness to the way the pastel captures the folds of the fabric and the concentrated expression of the woman. The impressionistic qualities of the work are expressed through the gestural strokes and the blurred outlines, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of the moment.

The woman’s posture is hunched, suggesting a sense of fatigue or the weight of monotony inherent to such domestic tasks. Despite the potential for a mundane interpretation, Degas’s artistry imbues the scene with a sense of dignity and a quiet intensity. By choosing to illustrate this routine activity, the artist elevates the everyday to a subject worthy of artistic exploration, a characteristic theme within the Impressionist movement.

In summary, “Woman Ironing” exemplifies Edgar Degas’s impressionistic approach to genre painting, rendering a common scene with both intimacy and immediacy, which speaks to the broader human experience transcending the specific historical context in which it was created.

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