After the Bath, Woman Drying Her Back

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Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas

1896

The title of this photograph is more poetic than indicative of an actual scene. The blackened bottom of the model’s foot suggests that the photograph was really made before, not after the bath. The casual setting is entirely fictional, and the towel and sofa are mere props for her unusual posturing. The model twists her torso in an unnatural position as the shadows contrive to decapitate her. Her contorted pose is purely formal; she does not appear to be drying any part of her body. Like many artists, Edgar Degas made photographs as preparatory studies for his drawings and paintings. This photograph may have been made in connection with a series of drawings devoted to the motions of women dressing and bathing.

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