This unfinished picture dates to Degas’s early years as an art student in Paris. Rather than using a fresh canvas, he painted the nude on top of another figure study, which is partially visible underneath. The toes and foot of the earlier figure—possibly the same model—may be seen in the lower left corner, just below the male nude’s head, while his bearded face appears in the area of the reclining nude’s foot.
René de Gas, Paris; Maurice Exsteens, Paris (by 1946–61; consigned to Klipstein and Kornfeld, October 1960; sold to Klipstein and Kornfeld); [Galerie Klipstein and Kornfeld, Bern, 1961–65; sold to Wisselingh]; [E. J. van Wisselingh & Co. Fine Art, Amsterdam, from 1965]; UC San Diego Foundation (until 1976; sale, Sotheby's, Los Angeles, September 20–22, 1976, no. 277, for $11,500 to Ring); Sheldon Ring, Los Angeles (1976–96; sold by his estate on March 28, 1996, through Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco, to Korsant); Philip Korsant, Greenwich, Conn. (1996–2007)
Bern. Klipstein und Kornfeld. "Choix d'une collection privée: Sammlungen G. P. und M. E., Impressionisten, Neoimpressionisten, Spätimpressionisten," October 22–November 30, 1960, no. 5.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Degas and the Nude," October 9, 2011–February 5, 2012, unnumbered cat. (fig. 21).
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Degas et le nu," March 12–July 1, 2012, unnumbered cat. (fig. 20).
P[aul]. A[ndré]. Lemoisne. Degas et son œuvre. [reprint 1984]. Paris, [1946–49], pp. 6–7, no. 15, ill., dates it about 1856.
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Degas. Milan, 1970, p. 89, no. 65, ill.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2007–2008." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 66 (Fall 2008), p. 37, ill (color), notes that it is one of only a few studies of a male nude by Degas and that it was painted over an earlier study of a nude that was oriented vertically; notes that a similar figure appears in "Scene of War in the Middle Ages" (1865; Musée D'Orsay, Paris) and that the pose also appears in pastels of female bathers in the 1880s and 1890s; compares it to a nude in the foreground of Ingres's "Romulus Victorious over Acron" (1812; École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris; on deposit at the Musée du Louvre).
Anne Roquebert inDegas and the Nude. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2011, pp. 21, 222, fig. 21 (color) [French ed., "Degas et le nu," Paris, 2012, pp. 39, 272, fig. 20 (color)].