After the Bath – Woman Drying Herself
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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