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Second to Edgar Degas’ love for painting young ballerinas galloping on stage, was the artist’s passion for portraying the nude female body bathing.
Seated Bather is a gorgeous pastel on paper piece by the renowned French artist that showcases a female bathing through an impressionist style. A wide array of colours, patterns, styles, fill the screen adding to the impressionist style of the artwork. The scene is set with a woman seated on her side bathing her body with a white towel. The perspective of the viewer showcases the woman’s backside, a common angle Degas uses within his artwork as if it were a hidden glimpse to what occurs while bathing. The woman’s wide hips fill the frame as she uses a towel to wash her side. She gently lifts her left arm in order to get a better angle, scrubbing away.
While the title of the artwork is Seated Bather, it seems as if the woman is washing her body outside of the bathtub to preserve water, a common practice experienced at the time. With the use of water and soap she is seated on a chair bathing, where she will then go rinse off in the tub. Yet, through ignoring the title, it seems as if the woman is perhaps drying herself after stepping out of the bath.
The viewer is able to witness that the teal blue bathtub is filled with water, adding to the question of whether the woman is indeed washing her body, or drying herself. The woman’s hair is drawn with incredible percussion as fine brown strands of hair cover her head and into a rounded bun. The face of the woman is hidden by her raised arm, as many of the woman bathing throughout Degas’ work are. A similar artwork by the artist is After The Bath, which showcases yet another woman’s routine post bath.
The artist based the brightness of the pastel drawing off a light source coming from the upper left of the piece. This light illuminates parts of the woman’s body, while shading others which creates a deep contour adding immense depth to her figure. The texture of the woman’s skin is showcased through swift lines along her body. The beautiful component of the painting that catches the viewers attention is the wide range of colour and detail throughout the piece. The floor of the painting is covered In a dark green, red and nude swigging pattern in a horizontal direction. A rich orange silky fabric is placed upon the woman’s chair covering it. The white towel in which the woman uses to dry herself holds shades of blue and a creamy grey to showcase the texture of the strands.
The upper background of the painting continues through this theme as it is filled with even more bright colours. A ruffled yellow fabric falls at the top right corner of the painting as glimpses of orange and green are showcased within it. Next to it, a rich red fabric lays with light pink linear lines falling towards the floor. At the top left corner of the artwork lays a pink fabric with yellow ruffles at the bottom of orange lines.
Finally a bright orange fabric with a floral pattern to it is showcased above the woman. It seems as if the different fabrics near the top of the artwork are meant to be different dresses that hang in the bath room. Also, it is evident that the artist had focused his colour palette on warm tones in order to allow the whole painting to sync. These rich shades of yellow, red, pink, and orange add a pleasant emotion and colourful space. Additional artworks that hold the impressionist style Edgar Degas adored are by the French artists Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.