Friday, April 26, 2013

Woman Combing Her Hair by Degas.

Woman Combing Her Hair

Technical Data

The painting I have chosen is Woman Combing Her Hair by Edgar Degas. He was born on the 19th July, 1834 and he died on the 27th September, 1917.

This painting was painted from 1888 to 1890 with three different types of pastel on cardboard. Its dimensions are 61.3 x 46 cm. It had many owners. The first one was Durand-Ruel, who bought it to Degas on the 27th February, 1891. Later there were other buyers and the last one was San Salz, who bought and sold it on the 30th April 1950 to Mr. and Mrs. B. Nate Spingold. They gave it to the museum later. Now this painting is located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in the Gallery 817.


This painting shows a woman combing her hair after bathing. The woman’s position is very interesting and peculiar. This picture is painted with soft pastel and Degas used primary and complementary colors. We can see the outlines to differentiate the background and the woman. We can also see light areas in the arms and some parts of the back and shadow areas in the low part of the back, her legs and some areas of the background. Degas mixed mahogany, black and brown colors in the woman’s hair, which contrast with the dark yellow background. The woman shows a little of movement in her arms while she is combing her hair. This pastel shows the force of form and color Degas wanted to display. The background has some brush-strokes of different colours, it is very colorful. This painting is made from a central perspective, but the body occupies the left part of the painting mainly.


Degas was a French artist famous for his works in painting, sculpture and drawing. Degas had a personal style, which connects with the great art of old painters, such as Ingres and Delacroix. He said: “I never adopted the impressionist stain of colour”. His scenes were about the Parisian life, eccentric compositions, experiments with colour and form and he was included in the impressionist movement. When he started to paint café life scenes, he changed his style and started to paint with a darker palette, live colours and intrepid brushstrokes.

He is identified with dancers and racecourses works, but in the mid-1870s Degas started to paint and draw women drying themselves with towels, combing their hair and bathing. He is considered to be an impressionist painter and he participated in seven impressionist exhibitions.

Degas wanted to show the external beauty of a woman. This is an impressionist painting because it has primary and complementary colors, lights change the color, there are different versions of the same theme (there are at least six similar paintings to this one) and it represents a scene of ordinary life. 

All these pictures are from the same link:

Realist painters represented the nudes in a real way, but Impressionism contributed with movement. Impressionist painters started to paint nude bathers, because this was a natural way of representing this theme and Degas started to paint women in different situations at their toilet: undressing, dressing, drying themselves....

 All these pictures are from this link:

Comparison between different Degas’ works of art 

If I compare this picture with other Degas’ works of art , I can say that this and five more paintings are special, because Degas painted dancers and racecourses, but he changed his theme and started to paint women after bathing, combing their hair, drying their neck, etc. I can also say that the last paintings he painted have more colours and they aren’t boring, because the first paintings about dancers he painted were too dark!

My personal opinion 

I like this painting by Degas very much, because when I saw it I felt something special which called my attention and it isn’t the typical landscape with a boat or nature.


I have looked for information on the following links:
- Oxford Pocket dictionary to look for some words that I didn’t know
- The World encyclopedia.


Paloma Gómez de la Cueva said...

Hello Laura!
I really like your work by Degas.
The painting is interesting and it include a complete information.
See you on Monday!

Monica said...

Hello Laura!
Very good work. I like it a lot. The information is easy to understan and you include a lot of photos. So I like it to much.

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Laura,

Good work! You've found very beautiful images. Women having a bath was an excuse to paint nudes and many painters of this period turned to this topic in order to be able to represent naked women (remember the scandal with Manet's paintings Olympia and Luncheon on the grass).

In my opinion, yoor project deserves 9.5 points.