'La Masseuse', Edgar Degas c.1918

La Masseuse by Degas

Original modelled in plastiline clay in the mid-1890s, this version cast in bronze after 1918. Height 42cm

Accession number: WAG 11648

Best known for his Impressionist painting, sculpture was for Degas mainly a private activity. He thought of his sculptures like sketches or drawings, as a way of developing a composition.

'La Masseuse' is Degas’ only two-figure sculpture. The masseuse massages the thigh of a naked woman, who holds her buttock in relief or pain. The emphasis of 'La Masseuse' on the effects of physical activity on bare female flesh highlights the artists dedication to depicting human, and in particular female, endeavour.

Once owned by artist, Lucian Freud, the sculpture was one of three by Degas, bequeathed to the nation upon the artist’s death in 2011. 'La Masseuse' was accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of Lucian Freud and allocated to the Walker Art Gallery in 2013. No. 2013.6.