'Woman ironing', Edgar Degas, painted about 1892-95
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Oil on canvas, 80 x 63.5cm
Accession number WAG 6645
Degas's laundress pictures paralleled his more famous ballet dancer series. For both he studied the precise movements of women at work.
The art of Degas was that of a 'Naturalist', depicting what was considered vulgar - laundresses were commonly thought of as borderline prostitutes - in a way that was almost scientific.
A double viewpoint is used - looking straight at the woman's face and down at her board. Her outlined and cropped figure also indicate Degas's debts to both Japanese art and snapshot photography.
Purchased in 1968 with the help of The Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.