History And Context
Degas’s oeuvre is full of images of women grooming themselves. In the absence of a male audience, implied or seen, his nudes are unselfconscious in stance and gesture. Degas loved the awkward poses captured by snapshots, and these informed his vision of the private world of women. In After the Bath, a woman steps out of her tub and toward a maid with waiting towel. Balancing on her left leg, the bather stabilizes herself by placing her left arm on a chair as she steps out of the bath. The intimacy of the scene is accentuated by its composition, the simple setting—a tub, a couple of chairs, a screen, and some fabrics—sumptuously rendered in orange, pink, and gold set off by intense blues, surrounding the figure like the entrance to a grotto.