One of a series of pastels showing women in acts of everyday grooming, this work is perhaps the most refined example. Critics attending the exhibition of Impressionist works where they were shown in 1886 had mixed reactions to the pieces, with some complaining that they thought that the models were unattractive prostitutes, and others praising Degas for his realistic representations of ordinary, modern women as opposed to over-idealised depictions of beauty.
Woman in a Tub
Original: Pastel on paper 70 x 70 cm
French painter, sculptor and collector Edgar Degas was a founder-member of the Impressionist group. Fascinated by line and colour, he would often draw a figure from several angles on a single page. As well as portraiture, in the early 1860s he began also to paint modern life genre scenes including his famous theatre and ballet scenes. Degas experimented with a variety of techniques, and from 1880 onwards, increasingly explored the possibilities of pastel, although he continued to work in oil until the end of his career.