The Tub

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Founder: Cast by A.-A. Hébrard et Cie (Paris)

Date: modeled 1888–89, cast 1920

Culture: French

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: 8-1/2 x 17-7/8 x 16-5/8 in. (21.6 x 45.4 x 42.2 cm.)

Classification: Sculpture-Bronze

Credit Line: H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929

Accession Number: 29.100.419


Degas's sculpture stands quite outside the mainstream of nineteenth-century French sculpture. He was never interested in creating public monuments, neither did he ever display his sculpture publicly, with the exception of The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer. Instead, it remained a private medium, akin to sketches or drawings, in which he limited himself largely to certain sets of subjects within which he explored the problems that fascinated him. Like The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, the original version of The Tub depended in large part for its effect on its polychromy and on the inclusion of materials usually foreign to sculpture. The tub was lead, the flesh of dark red wax, and the water of white plaster. In a letter to his friend Paul Bartholomé, dated June 13, 1889, Degas described the process of making the base using rags soaked with plaster. Unlike the bronze version of The Fourteen-Year-Old Dnacer, the bronze version of The Tub preserves no suggestion of the materials and colors of the original.