Homme nu couché, ca. 1855
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
Oil on canvas; 13 3/4 x 24 1/4 in. (34.9 x 61.6 cm)
Gift of Philip and Catherine Korsant, 2007 (2007.529)
This surprising work is one of only a few studies of a male nude painted by Edgar Degas. It was painted over an earlier study of a nude that was oriented vertically. The date of the work is not known; it might have been made in 1855–56, while Degas was studying with Louis Lamothe at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, or perhaps later in the same decade. The pose would recur, in the guise of a recumbent female nude, throughout Degas's career. A similar figure appears in his disturbing Scene of War in the Middle Ages of 1865 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), and he would later reprise it in his pastels of female bathers in the 1880s and 1890s. And they can all be considered descendants of the nude in the foreground of J. A. D. Ingres's Romulus Victorious over Acron of 1812 (Musée Augustin, Toulouse).