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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.
Oil (essence) on paper on canvas
H 47.5 x W 82.9 cm
Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917