Woman Drying Her Hair
c. 1900-1908
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

Degas’s late pastels of bathers drying and combing their hair are among the most sensuous—and the most bewilderingly abstract—works he ever produced. After half a century’s assiduous study (making copies of Renaissance and modern masters in his youth, producing countless life drawings of professional models, ballet dancers, and prostitutes in his maturity), Degas had come to know the contours of the nude by heart. Here those contours are engulfed by a thicket of terse, scribbling strokes, layer after layer of color, applied with an electric swiftness. These strokes lend vitality to the body they describe but also insist on the artist’s own dynamic process and on the flatness of the picture’s surface.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Woman Drying Her Hair
  • Date: c. 1900-1908
  • Medium: Pastel on paper
  • Dimensions: 28 x 24-1/2 in. (71.1 x 62.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1969.06.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Edgar Degas Estate, Paris (sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 12 December 1918, lot 134, ill., as “Femme s’essuyant les cheveux,” for Fr 3,900 to);
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, stock no. 11370, sold 8 March 1958 to];
René Beck.
[?Charles Durand-Ruel, Paris, to];
[Sam Salz, New York, to];
[Reid & Lefevre, Ltd., London, offered by 9 December 1968, and subsequently sold 25 January 1969 to];
Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art, Los Angeles (sale, New York, Christie's, 19 May 1982, lot 15, ill., as Femme s’essuyant les cheveux, unsold);
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, 1969-02-20 to 1969-07-08

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-07-09 to 1972-07-07

Edgar Degas 1837-1917. Exposition organisée au profit de la Société des Amis du Louvre_1

  • Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, 1960-06-09 to 1960-10-01

Redesigned Degas Galleries

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1995-05-04 to 1997-06-01

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and the Norton Simon Foundation_2

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1974-10-19 to 1976-06-15

Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972-12-03 to 1974-07-17

Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-11-09 to 2018-04-09
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, under no. 1053 p. 133
  • Degas by Himself: Drawings, prints, paintings, writings, p. 280
  • Maheux, Anne, Degas Pastels, figs. 14, 14a
  • Thomson, Richard, Degas: The Nudes, p. 211, 218
  • Apollo, p. xliii
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre, no. 1454
  • Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum, 1980, p. 111
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 151
  • Marmor, Michael, Degas by His Own Eyes, 2002, fig. 32 p. 55
  • Kendall, Richard, Edgar Degas: Defining the Modernist Edge, 2003, fig. 18 p.62
  • Dumas, Ann, and others, Degas e gli italiani a Parigi, 2003, fig. 82 pp. 162-163
  • The Open University, Art of the Avant-Gardes, 2004, Plate 4.11 pp. 119-122
  • Museum of Art and History, Geneva, Dessins fraçais, collections du Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève, 2004, fig. 1 pp. 136-137
  • Marmor, Michael F. and James G. Ravin, The Artist's Eyes: Vision and the History of Art, 2009, fig. 38.4c p. 205
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 30 pp. 45, 218
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 570 p. 313
  • Carmen Fernández Jacob, La Patalogía Ocular en la Pintura a Través de la Clínica Oftalmológica, 2017, Fig. 25, Fig. 28 pp. 115-117
  • Michel Schulman, Degas Catalogue Raisonné Online, 2021, MS-1029
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in front Edgar Degas Modeled c. 1882-95; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in line Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, right hand near the ground, left arm outstretched (First arabesque penchée) Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21

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