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Edgar Degas (1834–1917)
Study of a Seated Woman, 1868–69
Oil paint thinned with turpentine, over graphite, on tan paper
Stamped in red ink at lower right, Degas; inscribed at right with extraneous numbers.
13 3/4 x 8 3/16 inches (350 x 209 mm.)
Bequest of John S. Thacher, 1985; 1985.38
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On this small sheet, forms are created by broad areas of wash, free from the solid outlines of earlier drawings. Degas' use of thinned paint expanded the creative possibilities of brushwork and color; for instance, the figure's left arm is formed by the negative space between two areas of wash. This is one of several studies made by the artist in preparation for the female figure in Interior (Philadelphia Museum of Art). The ambiguous, tense nocturnal scene in the painting is evocative of contemporary novels, such as Thérèse Raquin, émile Zola's chronicle of lust and murder. The subject's internal, private focus is emphasized by her oblique position and vague features.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.