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Like a number of Degas' smaller pastels, this picture began life as a monotype, printed directly onto paper from a drawing by the artist. The silvery grey marks of the monotype can be seen clearly in the curtain and the pillow. Following the composition and tonal structure established by the monotype, Degas worked on the image with pastels, often submerging the original print under several layers of colour. The scene might be thought part of the standard repertoire of eroticism, were it not for the fact that the figure is wearing a rather domestic-looking night cap.

August 2004