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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

A Degas enters Van Gogh museum

The Van Gogh Museum recently acquired a large pastel by Degas, Woman with his toilet, sold for $ 6,642,400 (fees included) in a Sotheby's sale in New York on November 12, 2019.

Edgar Degas wrote about his naked women: Until now, the nude had always been shown in poses which suppose an audience, but my women are simple people. I show them without coquetry, like animals that clean themselves. It is as if you were looking through a keyhole.

Perhaps it was one of the pastels which were exhibited in 1886; perhaps it was produced a little later; in any case, it belongs to this series of female figures that we believe to be observed through a keyhole, which the painter declined in the 1880s.

Degas, during the eighth impressionist exhibition, showed a Suite of nudes of women bathing, washing, drying, wiping, painting, or combing, which was hailed by critics. Degas stages women who are surprised in their intimacy and thus brings down ancient and mythological nudity in everyday prosaism. The poses are not elegant, faces are hidden, the framing is daring. The model's head and legs are cut, the figure is not at the center of the composition. The dynamism is reinforced by the mastery of pastel, Degas translates the light that caresses the skin, juxtaposes color lines, lines, hatching, dots to make the whole vibrate.

This pastel joins in the museum a monotype as well as a bronze by Edgar Degas, showing both of them nudes at their toilet, a woman who reads after her bath, and another washing. La tribune de l'art

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