A drawing of a nude woman sitting on a red sofa atop a beige cushion, drying herself with a white towel. Her left arm is raised and her face obscured from the viewer. The background is fully red, and the sketch is an unblended charcoal, creating unusual graphic rhythms.
Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas (1834-1917), After the Bath - Woman Drying Herself, circa 1895, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

After the Bath – Woman Drying Herself

Edgar Degas

This lavish, large-scale pastel depicts a naked woman, her arm raised as she dries herself. Such intimate scenes increasingly occupied Degas in the later decades of his career. In these close-up views of faceless, naked bodies posed in undistinguished contemporary interiors, the artist aspired to represent a new type of modern female nude.  

As is typical of Degas’s pastels, the medium is applied in distinct layers, with very little blending, over a charcoal underdrawing. The artist favoured tracing paper as it allowed him to incorporate earlier studies into his drawings. However, because pastel does not adhere easily to its smooth surface, he would then use a fixative to secure each successive layer. This method, unique to Degas, creates marvellous drifts of colour and unusual graphic rhythms, blurring the boundary between drawing and painting. 

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Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)