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Woman with a Towel, 1894 or 1898
|Artist||EDGAR DEGAS||This work has the bare elements of a genre-like setting – gilt-framed mirror, mantel-piece with an ultramarine object on it, green-and-orange wallpaper. The figure is heroically and energetically muscular, her body twisted in contrapposto, emphasised by charcoal or black-chalk contours drawn over the pastel. The nipple of her breast is smudged. Degas has drawn strokes of pink over the flesh and placed a blue shadow on her rump. She holds her large, faintly lavender-tined towel, with its robin’s-egg-blue shadows, with a flourish, enhanced - it has been pointed out – by the variety of means with which Degas applied the pastel. He worked the right portion of the towel with a sharp instrument such as the end of a paintbrush handle, making rather rough horizontal strokes ,and used a wet brush to smear the folds and contours. The left contour was softened with a tampon, sponge, or bristle brush. All this gives the towel a decisive movement. Very different is the head which is bowed. Glowing red hair falls over the young woman’s face, somewhat like that of the figure on the right in The Coiffure from Oslo, though its elfin profile is barely visible.
Degas dated this work, as he had Young Girl Braiding Her Hair, but there is considerable difference of opinion about the reading of the second digit. Traditionally the date has been read as 1894 , the dame date as the other pastel, not by any means an impossibility; but Charles S. Moffett has proposed 1898.
1894 or 1898
|Institution||The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|Medium||Pastel on cream-colored wove paper with red and blue fibers throughout|
|Dimensions||95.9 x 76.2 cm|