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The stunning artwork dates back to 1884 as one of the artist’s first oil on canvas pieces large enough to be displayed at a museum. It is evident that the woman is at a millinery shop where hats are sold. The woman is seated on a bench and is analyzing a hat she holds in her hands.
The artist depicts a side profile of her face in which the viewer is able to obtain a slight idea of how the woman looks. She has a small nose that is slightly pointed, with red lush lips. The woman has a strong jaw and cheekbones that the artist contours to create a great effect. The woman’s pale face is slightly accentuated trough her rosy cheeks and bright coloured lips. This adds some life into her pale face. The viewer is not able to see the woman’s hair, as it’s covered by the hats displayed within the store. Yet, glimpses of her chestnut coloured hair can be found.
The woman is dressed in a long dark olive dress. The gown covers her whole body as it beautiful hugs her chest into her waist. The long sleeves continue until her elbows, where her light brown gloves meet. At her waist, the women wears a small belt that hugs her stomach. Her dress then flares out into a large bell-shaped gown towards the floor. Edgar Degas beautifully showcases the material of her gown by layering the fabric onto one another. This layered fabric falls towards the floor with exquisite detailing. The woman seems to stem from a middle class or upper-class family able to afford such spectacular hats. See also the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cezanne, Gustave Caillebotte and Frederic Bazille.
The hat she is currently analyzing in her hands is coloured in a bright orange colour with yellow shades. This golden hat seems to hold a velvety texture to it as it glows in the light. The artist placed a light source near the top right of the painting that illuminates both the hat and the woman’s face. There are 5 other hats within the painting that stand on wooden shelves. There’s a baby blue chiffon hat on the floor of the chest with a rich blue ribbon on it. The artist uses linear brush strokes to showcases the fluffy texture of the hat compared to the bright orange one the woman is holding.
Alongside the blue hat, a yellow hat hangs above covered in yellow flowers. These flowers cover the perimeter of the hat, in which a green ribbon then falls. To the left of the green hat, a bright yellow ruffled hat hangs in the sunlight. This beautiful hat is the largest of all of the hats with the most layers. The viewer is able to witness it’s bright yellow texture through the canvas. Near the back of the artwork a red hat hangs on it’s on in the dark. It is difficult to make out the exact style of the hat in comparison to the others. Nevertheless, the woman is immensely captivated by the hat in her hands as she tries to find her next purchase. The viewer is able to witness the judgement in her face as she examined the hat from a far.
As this would probably be an expensive purchase, the woman carefully decided if the hat in her hands is the one she will take home. Degas paints the remainder of the painting in a bright orange-brown muddy shade to fill in the extra space. This orange shade perfectly merges with three of the hats as they’re based on the same colour scheme.