Woman Ironing

WAG 6645


This is the last in a series of women ironing which Degas had started in the early 1870s. Degas’s laundress pictures paralleled his more famous ballet dancer series. For both he studied the precise movements of women at work. With his ‘Naturalist’ approach, he depicted subjects commonly considered vulgar – laundresses were perceived as borderline prostitutes. The woman here appears strong and dignified. Degas has also emphasised the painting’s aesthetic effects. A combination of rose-red and green helps intensify the colours. The woman’s outlined and cropped figure reveals Degas’s debts to Japanese art and snapshot photography.