Degas, the Nudes

Richard Thomson, Author Thames & Hudson $40 (240p) ISBN 978-0-500-23509-6
Nudes comprised more than 20 percent of Degas' subject matter. His typical unclothed female is a slightly plump middle-class lady at her bath. Yet the French artist explored nudity in many guises. The symbolic figures of his Medieval War Scene and David and Goliath suggest vulnerable, naked humanity. Then there are the prostitutes of his brothel pictures, salaciously or humorously observed. There are women in meditative poses, asleep, dancing and, infrequently, making love to other women. There is a bit of the voyeur in Degas' images, but as British art historian Thomson shows, the painter transcended his own conventional categories of ""nice'' bourgeois women and ``fallen'' lower-class whores. His explorations of the nude in charcoal, pastel, oil and sculpture exude empathy, even nobility. This marvelously illustrated study by the author of The Private Degas fills a critical void. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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