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The identity of the sitter for this painting is unknown. The heavily textured canvas and bold brushwork are not typical of Degas' style in this period, and suggest that the work may have been experimental. A blackish underpainting is visible in many places. This has almost certainly become more visible since the picture was painted, due to a tendency of oil paint to increase in translucency as it ages. It seems likely that the figure's face would originally have been unblemished.

August 2004