Lot 14
  • 14

Edgar Degas

Estimate
600,000 - 800,000 USD
Sold
578,500 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Edgar Degas
  • Après le bain (femme s'essuyant les cheveux)
  • Signed Degas (upper right)
  • Pastel and charcoal on paper laid down on canvas

Provenance

Ambroise Vollard, Paris

Mme de Galea, Paris (acquired from the above)

Galerie de l'Elysée, Paris (acquired from the above)

Acquired from the above in 1955

Catalogue Note

The present work belongs to a group of pastels treating one of Degas' signature themes, that of a female figure at her toilette.  His rendering of this subject here focuses on the movement of the body as the model pulls a comb through her hair.  The drawing references the space beyond the physical boundaries of his composition, with the model's elbow extending to the edge of the sheet and the abrupt cropping of her leg at the ankle.  Because he was interested primarily in depicting the human form in a variety of rituals and movements, Degas rarely concentrated on the identity of his models and often obscured their faces, as he has in the present work.


Richard Kendall wrote about the artist's works on this theme: "The subject of coiffure [...] inspired some of the finest pictorial inventions of Degas' last years.  Though it had featured briefly in his earlier repertoire, the theme seized Degas's imagination afresh in the 1890s and prompted a profusion of drawings, pastels and oil paintings, even lithographs and wax sculptures.  Many were linked by the process of tracing or serial extension, but all demonstrated the artist's extraordinary ability to find visual and psychological drama in the humblest incidents of everyday life.  Some models appear in their domestic surroundings, others against stark, anonymous walls; some are seen close-to, others from a distance, from above or from an oblique angle; most are decorously clothed, but occasionally a figure appears naked; almost all are solemnly engaged with their toilette, but, again, this can seem serene or indolent, hasty or near-desperate in its intensity" (R. Kendall, Degas, Beyond Impressionism (ex. cat.), The National Gallery, London, 1996, p. 218).

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