Lot 34
  • 34

Edgar Degas

900,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Edgar Degas
  • Femme se peignant
  • Signed Degas (lower left)
  • Pastel on paper
  • 19 1/2 by 15 in.
  • 49 by 38 cm


Milan Obrenovic, King of Serbia-in-exile, Paris (acquired circa 1889-92)

King Alexander of Serbia

Queen Nathalie of Serbia

Bogdan Popovic, Belgrade (acquired circa 1903)

Marlborough Fine Art, London

Sale: Sotheby's London, June 30, 1987, lot 39

Private Collection (aquired from the above)

Sale: Sotheby's, New York, November 16, 1989, lot 109

Private Collection, Japan (acquired at the above sale)

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, 1998-2013 (on loan)

Yokohama Museum of Art, Degas, 2010, no. 74, illustrated in the catalogue


P. A. Lemoisne, Degas et son oeuvre, vol. III, Paris, 1946, no. 1003, illustrated

Franco Russoli & Fiorella Minervino, L'Opera Completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. 954, illustrated

Catalogue Note

No other subjects in Degas' oeuvre are as visually enticing as his nudes.   These voyeuristic scenes of nude women, pampering themselves at their toilettes, have earned their place among the most desirable images in the history of modern art.   At the turn of the century Degas devoted his production almost exclusively to these intimate depictions so that he could study the contours of the female form at close proximity.  In this sensuous pastel from the early 1890s, Degas depicts his model reaching over her head to tie her hair into a knot.  The pose accentuates the elongation of the figure's spine and the suppleness of her flesh, and the colors that he has selected invest the atmosphere with a sense of warmth.

Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge have written the following about these pastels: "By far the greatest number of the bathers are seen from behind, and the face is concealed or turned away in those that are not... The dominant theme is the back: the body seen at its furthest removed from reciprocal address. As the subject of the bathers continues even the notion of the keyhole falls away, and Degas crosses the threshold to a point far beyond ironic audiencehood. The great series of torsos of [...] women who dry themselves are viewed from close up, no longer spied out from a distance. Closer by far to sculpture than to illustration, their backs occupy the center of the picture and impart a corporeal wholeness to its entire surface" (Robert Gordon & Andrew Forge, Degas, New York, 1988, p. 240).

The first owner of this pastel was Milan Obrenovic, the King of Serbia, who acquired the work while he was living in exile in Paris between 1889-92 with the help of the advisor, Isaac de Camondo.  It remained in the Serbian royal family until it was given as payment to Bogdan Popovic, a member of the national commission who conducted an inventory of the royal collection.