Lot 5
  • 5

EDGAR DEGAS Femme en peignoir rouge se coiffant

400,000 - 600,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Edgar Degas
  • Femme en peignoir rouge se coiffant
  • stamped Degas (lower left) and annotated sur blanc (towards centre left)
  • pastel, charcoal, stumping, and black crayon on paper


Sale: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Vente Atelier Degas, 2e vente, December 11-13, 1918, lot 124
Numès & Fiquet, Paris
Adolphe et Elisabeth Friedmann, Paris
Thence by descent to the present owner


Paul-André Lemoisne, Degas et son œuvre, Paris, 1946, vol. III, no. 978, illustrated p. 569

Catalogue Note

This beautiful composition by Edgar Degas explores the eternal themes of beauty, youth and vanity. The artist's depiction of a young woman dressing her hair is the perfect embodiment of Modern Life at the end of the 19th century as described by Baudelaire, and of whom Degas was one of the greatest pictorial interpreters. The absolute mastery of the delicate combination of pastel with charcoal and black crayon in addition to its audacious composition render this work particularly successful and appealing. During the 1880s, the artist increasingly focused on pastel drawings and dealt abundantly with the theme of women dressing their hair in preparation for stage performance at the opera, cabarets, brothels, as well as in the homes of the 'bourgeoisie'. He developed the theme to depict these figures absorbed by their intimate activity in order to continually experiment with innovative compositions.

The pastel medium permitted him to apply colour more freely in order to add dimension and colour to his compositions. He worked on the composition Femme en peignoir rouge se coiffant several times as demonstrated by a version in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. The intensity of the black crayon highlighting the woman's hair provides a bold contrast with the red and pink tones of her semi-transparent gown, revealingly slightly open, endowing this humble everyday activity with an erotic charge. Degas succeeds in capturing an intimate moment, as if the model was caught unaware, similar to a photograph capturing a moment in time. This fine pastel comes from the collection of Adolphe and Elisabeth Friedmann. At the beginning of the 20th century, they collected the Impressionists and put together a remarkable and extensive group of paintings and pastels works by Degas. Some were purchased thanks to their privileged relationships with the Durand-Ruel and Bernheim-Jeune galleries, but also, as is the case here, directly from at the estate sale of Degas' studio, held in Paris in 1918. Two important works by Degas from their collection were gifted by their descendants to the Musée d'Orsay in 1989. Purchased 100 years ago at the Degas studio sale, this work has never been exhibited and has remained in the same family ever since.