Edgar Degas Paintings

Woman Having her Hair Combed

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The sensual painting is based on a pastel on canvas medium affixed to change in tones throughout the piece. The genre painting depicts a classic scene within the lives of women at the time in terms of taking care of their presence and body.

Degas was incredibly captivated by the female art of self-care through his multiple nude portraits of women bathing. This is evident within the artist’s paintings After The Bath, and Seated Bather. While this artwork does not focus on the nude female body as the artist’s other pieces commonly did, the classic characteristic of hygiene is present. The artwork showcased a woman seated on a chair in a loose blue dress while someone combs through her hair. Her attire seems to reflect that as a robe as it covers her pale skin. Her head is leaned backwards showcasing a side profile of her face as she looks towards her. Degas has decided to not illustrate her exact facial features and rather a general female face. Yet the artist had used a touch of yellow placed upon her cheeks to give her a glowing spark.

Her dark red hair is being combed through by the woman behind her. It is unknown of the relationship between the two women. Except for the fact that is it quite evident that the woman combing through the hair is older. This dynamic concludes that perhaps the woman combing through the hair is either the young lady’s mother of maid. Nevertheless, the woman moves her fighters through her hair brushing it out. Upon the table, the viewer is able to witness a wooden comb slightly falling off the table. Also, a pair of scissors, a bottle of oil and a ribbon are placed. Based on these items, it seems as if the woman is doing her hair after a bath. As well, the apron that the older woman wears concludes that she is indeed her maid.

The older woman is dressed in a lavender blouse that ruffles outwards along the sleeves. A blue bow covers the collar of her neck, while a white apron flows towards the floor. The table next to the two figures is roughly coloured in a white and blue. Similarity the background wall of the painting is based on an orange tone with white swirls covering the wall in a light pattern. Near the top left of the painting, a blurred pairing and a picture lay upon a shelf. The array of objects within the painting are not showcased in a multitude of detail. Instead the artist had opted for a rough sketch of the environment. This similar style is showcased in the artist’s other work titled Before The Curtain Calls, where it is roughly painted. Perhaps the pastel shades are the main reason as to why it was difficult for Degas to properly showcase the environment.

Similar styled artwork is presented by the artist’s contemporaries Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. The triple entente of artists often opted to create casual pieces with a low amount of attention to meticulous detail. Degas often liked to switch his paintings between exact precision showcasing facial expressions, and casual Impressionism pieces that show an overall theme. The Woman Having Her Hair Combed is a classic example of Degas solemnly focused on illustrating the scene rather than perfectly illustrating the exact actions and expressions. Edgar Degas remains as one of the forefathers of his time creating a new style of art that was still his own. The beauty of dance and the female presence captivated his work in a dynamic that no other artist carried.

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