Degas’s interest in the motif of a nude entering the water apparently dates to his student days, when he copied the figure of a man scrambling over a riverbank from an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi after Michelangelo. This is one of seven pastels in which Degas ventured a modern version of the subject. The woman, her arms and legs splayed precariously against a zinc bathtub, powerfully manifests the combination of physical awkwardness and sensuality that characterizes the artist’s depictions of bathers.
Inscription: Signed (upper left): Degas
Tadamasa Hayashi, Tokyo and Paris (by about 1890–d. 1906; his estate, 1906–13; his estate sale, American Art Association, New York, January 8–9, 1913, no. 85, for $3,100 to Durand-Ruel for Havemeyer); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1913–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 133)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 152 (as "The Bather") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 118].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas in the Metropolitan," February 26–September 4, 1977, no. 48 (of works on paper).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Degas," September 27, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 288.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A253.
"Der Kunstmarkt—von den Auktionen." Der Cicerone 5 (1913), p. 192, records its sale price of $3,100 in the Tadamasa Hayashi sale; attributes the prices brought by the Degas pastels in this sale to the high price paid for a Degas in the Rouart sale ["Dancers Practicing at the Bar," MMA 29.100.34, bought in 1912 for $95,700 by Mrs. Havemeyer at the Rouart sale; see Ref. Sterling and Salinger 1967].
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 133, as "Nude—The Bather".
Louise Burroughs. "Degas in the Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (May 1932), pp. 145–46, dates it probably after 1890 and comments that the change in technique in Degas's later pastels may have been due to failing eyesight.
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], vol. 3, pp. 602–3, no. 1031bis, ill., calls it "La Baigneuse" and dates it about 1890.
Regina Shoolman and Charles E. Slatkin. Six Centuries of French Master Drawings in America. New York, 1950, p. 188, pl. 106, as "The Bather".
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 261.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 90–91, ill., call it "The Bather".
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, p. 129, no. 947, ill. p. 128 and colorpl. LII.
Klaus Berger. Japonismus in der westlichen Malerei: 1860–1920. Munich, 1980, p. 70, fig. 50, observes in it the influence of an Utamaro print of about 1788 of a woman bathing.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 80, 251, ill. (color).
Geneviève Monnier. Pastels du XIXe siècle: Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des dessins; Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1985, p. 92, under no. 89, compares it to the pastel "Woman Combing Her Hair" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris; L930).
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 25, ill. (color).
Gary Tinterow inDegas. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1988, pp. 369, 470–73, no. 288, ill. (color), calls it "Woman Stepping into a Bath" and notes that it is one of seven pastels of the same model.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 257, 261, 337 n. 376, p. 339 n. 389.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 261, 285.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 337–38, no. A253, ill.
Colta Ives inThe Private Collection of Edgar Degas. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, pp. 258, 260 n. 30, fig. 343 (color).
Rebecca A. Rabinow inDegas and America: The Early Collectors. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2000, pp. 41–42, fig. 12 (color).
Charles Harrison. Painting the Difference: Sex and Spectator in Modern Art. Chicago, 2005, p. 119, fig. 88, as "Woman Entering a Bath".
George T. M. Shackelford inDegas and the Nude. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2011, pp. 186, 213, 228, fig. 197 (color) [French ed., "Degas et le nu," Paris, 2012, pp. 211, 216, 244, 270, fig. 209 (color)], relates it thematically to "The Morning Bath" (Art Institute of Chicago).
This picture is one of seven pastels of the same model.