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.

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

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1974-10-19 to 1976-06-15
  • Thomson, Richard, Degas: The Nudes, p. 211, 218
  • Dumas, Ann, and others, Degas e gli italiani a Parigi,fig. 82 pp. 162-163
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 151
  • Museum of Art and History, Geneva, Dessins fraçais, collections du Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève,2004, fig. 1 pp. 136-137
  • Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum,1980, p. 111
  • Lemoisne, Paul-André, Degas et son oeuvre,no. 1454
  • Marmor, Michael F. and James G. Ravin, The Artist's Eyes: Vision and the History of Art,2009, fig. 38.4c p. 205
  • Apollo, p. xliii
  • Russoli, Franco; and Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas,under no. 1053 p. 133
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum,2009, Fig. 30 pp. 45, 218
  • The Open University, Art of the Avant-Gardes,2004, Plate 4.11 pp. 119-122
  • Degas by Himself: Drawings, prints, paintings, writings, p. 280
  • Carmen Fernández Jacob, La Patalogía Ocular en la Pintura a Través de la Clínica Oftalmológica,2017, Fig. 25, Fig. 28 pp. 115-117
  • Marmor, Michael, Degas by His Own Eyes,fig. 32 p. 55
  • Maheux, Anne, Degas Pastels,figs. 14, 14a
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 570 p. 313
  • Kendall, Richard, Edgar Degas: Defining the Modernist Edge,fig. 18 p.62
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Actress in Her Dressing Room Edgar Degas c. 1875-1880 and c. 1895-1905
After the Bath Edgar Degas c. 1890-1893 (dated in error by another hand: 1885)
Autograph Letter to Durand-Ruel Edgar Degas n.d.

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