Woman with a Towel

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

1894 or 1898
Pastel on cream-colored wove paper with red and blue fibers throughout
37 3/4 x 30in. (95.9 x 76.2cm) Frame: 44 1/4 x 36 1/4 x 1 7/8 in. (112.4 x 92.1 x 4.8 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Degas used his fingers, brushes, and sharp implements to smudge, scrape, and polish this pastel, creating a sense of movement and texture, and revealing layers of brilliant color. Black outlines drawn over the pastel emphasize the contrapposto turn of the muscular and monumental nude. The date Degas inscribed on the sheet has traditionally been read as 1894 but 1898 is more likely.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (upper right): Degas 94 [98?]

  • Provenance

    the artist, Paris (until 1901; sold on February 25, for Fr 6,000, to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1901; stock no. 6226, as "Après le bain"; sold on April 22, for Fr 10,000, to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1901–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 133)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. M. Knoedler & Co.. "Loan Exhibition of Masterpieces by Old and Modern Painters," April 6–24, 1915, no. 39 (as "After the Tub," 1895).

    New York. Grolier Club. "Prints, Drawings and Bronzes by Degas," January 26–February 28, 1922, no. 34 (as "La sortie du Bain").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 149 (as "Woman with Towel—Back View") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 128, as "A Woman with a Towel—Back View"].

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 52 (of works on paper; as "Woman with a Towel," 1898).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 324.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A257.

    "Degas and the Nude," October 9, 2011–February 5, 2012, unnumbered cat. (fig. 166).

  • References

    "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Parnassus 2 (March 1930), p. 7.

    H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 133, as "Nude—Après le Bain".

    Louise Burroughs. "Degas in the Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (May 1932), p. 145.

    P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 3, pp. 666–67, 708, no. 1148, ill., as "Après le bain," 1894.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX–XX Centuries." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 3, New York, 1967, p. 91, ill., date it 1894.

    Fiorella Minervino in L'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, p. 132, no. 1015, ill.

    Thomas B. Hess. "Communicating Degas." New York Magazine (March 28, 1977), pp. 74, 77.

    Roy McMullen. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston, 1984, p. 432, dates it 1894.

    Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 143, 255, pl. 111.

    Jean Sutherland Boggs in Degas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 488, 531, 547, no. 324, ill. p. 530 (color), dates it "1894 or 1898?".

    Anne F. Maheux. Degas Pastels. Ottawa, 1988, p. 32, fig. 13 (color), dates it 1898; cites it as an example of the "zebrures" (striping) technique Degas used in his later pastels.

    Jean Sutherland Boggs and Anne Maheux. Degas Pastels. New York, 1992, pp. 152–53, no. 57, ill. (color), date it 1898.

    Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 257, 337 n. 376.

    Rebecca A. Rabinow in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 95, notes that Mrs. Havemeyer lent it to Exh. New York 1915.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 229–30, pl. 223, dates it 1894.

    Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 338, no. A257, ill. p. 337.

    Richard Kendall. Degas, Beyond Impressionism. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 1996, pp. 44, 46, 143, 307 n. 101, fig. 164, dates it 1894–98.

    Charles Harrison. Painting the Difference: Sex and Spectator in Modern Art. Chicago, 2005, p. 112, fig. 84 (color), dates it 1894–98.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 117, 244–45, no. 106, ill. (color and black and white), considers it most likely dated 1898 because of its style and 1901 sale date.

    Elizabeth Easton and Jared Bark. "'Pictures Properly Framed': Degas and Innovation in Impressionist Frames." Burlington Magazine 150 (September 2008), pp. 605–6, 611, fig. 35 (color).

  • See also