After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself I is a pastel piece, and strongly presents the subtlety and beauty of this media. We can see the direction of the strokes and the lines in the drawing. The colors are smooth and fluid. It is part of a whole series of studies, painting, photographies, and pastels created by Edgar Degas about women leaving the bath and drying themselves. He would often make a series of sketches and studies for the pieces, using photographs as a basis for his preliminary sketches. This piece is composed of several smaller pieces of paper mounted on cardboard, suggesting that he would have initially created a smaller composition and continued the work outside of his original canvas. It’s possible to see the connection between the pieces of paper on the original artwork.
In this piece, the woman that is leaving the bath is portrayed with her back to the viewer. She is drying herself with white towels, and it is possible to observe the precise details on her back. Her spine is strongly marked, and the shades of her skin are drawn in beige, pink, red and white. The shadiest areas are done in dark tonalities of brown, almost black. The light shines from a light source placed on the left of the painting, quite possibly a window, and is represented on her skin with white lines. She wears an orange slipper that nearly fades into the floor pattern. Her curly hair is ginger, depicted in a vibrant tone of tangerine.
She sits on one towel and dries herself with the other one. Dark brown lines mark the folds on the fabric, that is colored in a pearly beige and blue. This mix of colors assigns an Impressionist palette to the piece.
The ground is worked in shades of orange and green. Once again, complementary colors. The pigments of the floor are vibrant and contrast with the smooth palette chosen to portray the model and the towels that are the central motif of the drawing. The chair she sits on is golden yellow and shaded with dark green.
Behind her, it’s possible to observe a grey tub. This element creates depth and gives dimension to the piece. On the background, in the middle of the canvas, there is a dark area that suggests a door or passage to another room, and to the left of it, a vibrant light set of curtains, ornate with small orange dots. The fabric appears to be heavy and thick.
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