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Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Beach Scene

Key facts
Full title Beach Scene
Artist Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
Artist dates 1834 - 1917
Date made about 1869-70
Medium and support Oil (essence) on paper on canvas
Dimensions 47.5 × 82.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Inventory number NG3247
Location On loan: Long Loan to The Hugh Lane (2019 - 2026) (Group B), Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland
Collection Main Collection
Beach Scene
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

A maid combs the hair of a girl who has been swimming; her bathing suit is stretched out on the ground to dry. Other objects – two parasols, a basket and a summer bonnet – are scattered around. A family group (some members wrapped in towels) is leaving the shoreline, as other people stroll in the distance.

This is one of four beach scenes that Degas painted in around 1869, when he travelled to the coast of northern France, although he later stated that the picture had been completed in the studio. Small paintings of beach and seaside scenes in resorts such as Trouville were popular with several of Degas’s contemporaries, including Boudin, Monet and Manet.

Degas was a great admirer of Japanese prints, and adopted many aspects of their composition as well as their subject matter. The motif of a woman combing her hair or having it combed, which features in many Japanese prints, became part of his repertoire.

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