Edgar Degas - After the Bath 1896

After the Bath 1896
After the Bath
1896 89x116cm oil/canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA

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From Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia:
This is one of three paintings that Edgar Degas executed around 1896 of a woman seen from the rear as she reclines awkwardly on the back of a chaise longue. Anticipated by both a photograph (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu) and a drawing (private collection), the paintings have elicited wide-ranging interpretations from critics attempting to understand the woman's contorted pose and the strange fusion of eroticism and anguish it suggests. Of the three paintings, this is the simplest, the most thinly painted, and the most monochromatic, characteristics that have indicated to some that the work is unfinished. More likely, the fiery red canvas is evidence of Degas's increasing interest in pictorial abstraction in his later years, and his daring play with viewers' expectations of compositional completeness. Even in its simplicity and spareness, this is a fully resolved composition, and brilliant evidence of Degas's ability to innovate throughout his long artistic career.
Christopher Riopelle, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 204.