About this artwork

During the 1880s and 1890s, Degas made a series of solitary female nudes seen from behind. Many of these large pastels were densely worked and used strong coloured backgrounds against which the figure was silhouetted. Pastel had traditionally been a minor medium, but Degas’s bold experiments greatly expanded its potential. Here, the agitated chalk strokes give the impression that Degas was working a great speed, which makes the surface of the composition appear to flicker. Despite the apparent informality of the subject, the model would have been purposely posed. He may have drawn her from life in the studio, or have worked from a photograph, as this pose recurs in other works.

  • title: Woman Drying Herself
  • accession number: D NG 2226
  • artist: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar DegasFrench (1834 - 1917)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • subject: Nudity Impressionism
  • date created: About 1890 - 1895
  • measurements: 64.40 x 62.30 cm (framed: 87.00 x 85.50 x 9.00 cm)
  • credit line: Sir Alexander Maitland Gift in memory of his wife, Rosalind 1960
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

Degas's celebrated paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture focus on aspects of Parisian modern life, including the racecourse and the ballet. His studies at the École des Beaux-Arts encouraged his interest in the human figure which remained central to his art. He travelled to Italy, where he had relatives, and where he continued to study the art of the past. The family portraits he painted there, however, also reflect his interest in capturing momentary appearances and unusual viewpoints. This he shared with the Impressionists, whom he met through Edouard Manet, on his return to Paris. Degas contributed to seven of the eight Impressionist group exhibitions.