An image of After the bath

Edgar Degas

(France 19 Jul 1834 – 27 Sep 1917)

After the bath

Location
Temporary exhibitions gallery
Further information

The most gifted artists seem able to imbue drawing with the volumetric quality of sculpture. Degas was such an artist and this is just such a drawing. Seeming to explain everything essential and nothing inessential in the scene, the work is no more than a sketch, but nothing less than a masterpiece. With his colleague Manet, Degas shared the distinction of being the most academically accomplished of the artists associated with impressionism. In his drawings particularly, he sought to establish values of permanence and solidity as opposed to the more transient effects found in his painting. Here, the massive bathtub is handled with the same candour and concern for corporeal truth as the nude. In another sensibility, the conjunction of these elements would represent an erotic site. For Degas, it is merely a point of structural necessity; necessity, and therefore beauty: the bath is a plinth that prevents the model toppling. Degas's sensitivity to the forms and actions of the female body arguably mitigates against a voyeuristic or misogynist reading of his work.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.

Year
circa 1900
Media
Drawing
Medium
charcoal on tracing paper mounted on board
Dimensions
73.7 x 59.8 cm sight; 94.0 x 80.0 x 7.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust 1994
Accession number
222.1994