Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

The Tub (About 1889)

About this artwork

This small bronze sculpture shows a young girl gently washing herself in a shallow basin. Degas started by modelling the figure in dark-red beeswax and used plaster to make the 'water'. He gave her a real sponge to hold and placed her in an actual lead basin. After Degas's death, this small mixed-media model was discovered in his studio and cast in bronze. The National Gallery of Scotland's version is one of twenty-two casts that were made. In the later years of his career, Degas repeatedly explored the theme of the female bather. 'The Tub' demands to be viewed from above, an original idea for the time. It was never intended for exhibition, but was a personal exploration of a self-absorbed figure in a private act of mundane intimacy.

  • title: The Tub
  • accession number: NG 2286
  • artist: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar DegasFrench (1834 - 1917)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Sculpture
  • subject: Nudity
  • medium: Bronze
  • date created: About 1889
  • measurements: 22.20 x 45.70 x 42.00 cm
  • credit line: Sir Alexander Maitland Bequest 1965
  • 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.