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After the Bath

After the Bath, c. 1890-1893 (dated in error by another hand: 1885)

Edgar Degas
French, 1834-1917
Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard
26 x 20-3/4 in. (66 x 52.7 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Of Degas’s various recurrent subjects, the one most magically suited to the pastel medium may have been the female nude. By the early 1890s, the artist had all but abandoned oil paints for his nudes, relying instead on powdery, luminous pastels to convey the texture of bare skin. In works like this one, the more persuasively the physical properties of the medium mimic those of the sensuous subject, the more aware we become of the medium itself. Extreme realism here converges with abstraction, a new emphasis on the process of picture-making in the glowing, touched-all-over surface. The signature at lower left is original, but the incorrect date (“85”) is a later addition.

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