T03563 Woman in a Tub c.1883
Pastel on paper 27 1/2 × 27 1/2 (700 × 700)
Inscribed ‘Degas’ t.r.
Bequeathed by Mrs A.F. Kessler 1983
Prov: Henri Lerolle, Paris; Arthur Tooth & Sons; Mrs Kessler 1938
Exh: Degas, Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, March–April 1937 (119, as ‘Femme au Tub’ c.1883); La Flèche d'Or, Arthur Tooth & Sons, November 1938 (29); The Kessler Collection, Wildenstein Gallery, October–November 1948 (4); Degas, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, August–September 1952 (19); Degas, Tate Gallery, September–October 1952 (19); Edgar Degas 1834–1917, Lefevre Gallery, June–July 1970 (7, repr.); Post-Impressionism: Cross-Currents in European Painting, Royal Academy, November 1979–March 1980 (62, repr.); The Kessler Bequest, Tate Gallery, February–April 1984 (not numbered, repr. in col.)
Lit: P.A. Lemoisne, Degas et son Oeuvre, Paris, 1946, III, no.738, p.420, repr. p.421 as ‘Femme au Tub’ c.1883; Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino, L'Opera Completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no.885, p.126, repr.
Degas's exhibits at the 8th Impressionist Exhibition of 1886 included ten pastels of female nudes ‘bathing, washing, drying, wiping themselves, combing their hair or having it combed’, and this became one of his favourite themes from then on. This picture, with its carefully modelled forms set in space and relatively great amount of detail, is one of the earliest. However Degas took up this particular pose again many years later, about 1898, in another pastel (Lemoisne no.1335) in which the woman is kneeling on a towel instead of in a tub and is executed in the much more summary, blurred and relief-like manner characteristic of his later style.
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986