The Masseuse

Edgar Degas, 1890s mid; 1918-05-13 after

WAG 2013.6

About this object

Degas is best known as a leading Impressionist painter. For him making sculpture was mainly a private activity. He used it to think through artistic problems of shape and posture. By the 1890s Degas suffered from very poor eyesight and hand-modelling sculpture let him work more quickly.

Uniquely in this piece Degas explores the animated interaction between two figures. The masseuse massages the thigh of a naked woman, who holds her buttock in relief or pain. Degas modelled 'The Masseuse' at about the same time he painted the Walker’s 'Woman Ironing', which is shown nearby. Both focus on the weary labour and muscular strength of working women.

Degas was fascinated with the effect of light playing on naked flesh and visualising it in an unidealised way. This also inspired the modern British painter, Lucian Freud (1922-2011), who once owned this sculpture.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    La Masseuse; Le Massage
  • Artist(s)
    Edgar Degas (French, born:1834-07-19, died:1917-09-27)
    Paul-Albert Bartholomé (French, born:1848, died:1928)
    Albino Palazzolo (born:1883, died:1973)
    A A Hébrard et Cie (born:unknown, died:unknown)
  • Date
    1890s mid; 1918-05-13 after
  • Materials
    Bronze (brown patina)
  • Measurements
    height 42.5 x length 38 x depth 32.5 cm
  • Physical description
    Naked woman lying on a couch holding her right buttock while having her right thigh massaged by a standing clothed woman.
  • Related people
    A A Hébrard et Cie (Artist/maker); Albino Palazzolo (Artist/maker); Edgar Degas (Artist/maker); Lucian Michael Freud (Previous owner); Walther Halvoresen (Previous owner); Paul-Albert Bartholomé (Artist/maker); Peter Findlay Gallery (Previous owner); Justin Thannhauser (Previous owner); Trustees of the Lucian Freud Estate (Previous owner); Weintraub Gallery (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    Systematic Number: WAG 11648; previous number: WAG 11648
  • Credit line
    Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of Lucian Freud and allocated to the Walker Art Gallery in 2013
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery: Room 10, Room 10
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Walther Halvoresen

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1929-08-12
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Justin Thannhauser

    Owned from: 1929-08-12
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Weintraub Gallery

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1985-05-15
    Disposal method: Auction
  • Peter Findlay Gallery

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1999-07-08
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Lucian Michael Freud

    Owned from: 1999-07-08
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 2011-07-20
    Disposal method: Given in lieu of Inheritance Tax to HM Government
  • Trustees of the Lucian Freud Estate

    Owned from: 2011-07-21
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 2013
    Disposal method: Given in lieu of Inheritance Tax to HM Government

Inscriptions

Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: Degas
    Inscription method: Stamped (at casting stage)
    Inscription note: At foot of Masseuse figure
    Inscription location: Front; Lower right (at foot of Masseuse)
  • Inscription text: CIRE PERDUE A A HEBRARD
    Inscription method: Stamped (at casting stage)
    Inscription note: Located at corner of left edge to the side of the back of the chaise longue
    Inscription location: Back; Lower left (at corner of left edge to the side of the back of the chaise longue)
  • Inscription text: 55/D
    Inscription method: Stamped (at casting stage
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Back; Base; Lower left ( to left end of the back of the chaise longue at right angles to the AA Hebrard stamp)
Object view = Fine Art
Page load time: 265 ms