Woman Drying Herself
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Woman Drying Herself about 1890 - 1895

On Display SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY

During the 1880s and 1890s, Degas made a series of solitary female nudes seen from behind. Many of these large pastels were densely worked and used strong coloured backgrounds against which the figure was silhouetted. Pastel had traditionally been a minor medium, but Degas’s bold experiments greatly expanded its potential. Here, the agitated chalk strokes give the impression that Degas was working a great speed, which makes the surface of the composition appear to flicker. Despite the apparent informality of the subject, the model would have been purposely posed. He may have drawn her from life in the studio, or have worked from a photograph, as this pose recurs in other works.

Glossary Open

Composition

The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Medium/ media

The material from which an artwork is made, e.g. oil paint, bronze, paper. 'Medium' is also used for the liquid element of paint in which a colouring agent is carried. 'Mixed media' is used when an artist combines several different materials in an artwork.

Pastel

A drawing material made from ground pigment bound with enough gum or resin to hold it together in a stick, often smudged on paper to produce soft, atmospheric effects.

Silhouette

Images showing an outline with no internal detail set against a contrasting background. It is specifically used for portraits of this type cut from paper.

Composition, Medium/ media, Pastel, Silhouette

Details

  • Acc. No. D NG 2226
  • Medium Pastel on paper
  • Size 64.40 x 62.30 cm (framed: 87.00 x 85.50 x 9.00 cm)
  • Credit Sir Alexander Maitland Gift in memory of his wife, Rosalind 1960