This is the last in a series of women ironing which Degas had started in the early 1870s. Degas’ 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.


  • Title: Woman Ironing
  • Creator: Edgar Degas
  • Date Created: 1892/1895
  • tag / style: Edgar Degas; Impressionism; woman; ironing; laundress; interior
  • Physical Dimensions: w635 x h800 cm (without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was one of the principal organisers of the group of Impressionist exhibitions that took place in Paris between 1874 and 1886. Degas, alongside his close friend Edward Manet was the most important of the avant-garde French Artists working in a so-called ‘Naturalist’ manor. Much of Degas’ subject matter was Parisian, including dancers, prostitutes, shop assistants, café-concert singers, jockeys and laundresses. Two thirds of all his pictures were of women, including his famous Ballet dancer works.
  • Additional artwork information: This painting was the subject of a gallery talk given at the Walker Art Gallery by its Director Reyahn King. To read the transcript from this talk, or listen to the podcast please follow the link below: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/podcasts/transcripts/degas_gallery_talk.asp
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund in 1968

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