Many know Degas for his beautiful paintings of ballerinas, dancing and full of color. Well this should give you another take on the artist.
This is a painting he did for himself, it was kept in his room for much of his life and though he meant it to go on show in a Salon, it never did in his lifetime. Degas was a wealthy man so many of his paintings were not commisioned, but simply done for himself.
This painting is housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many have tried to interpret it by comparing it to literature, such as a story in which the theme is “the wedding night goes bad.”
Not many accept that interpretation.
Which they shouldn’t, because Degas in fact occasionally wrote about and discussed a rape fantasy he had, so with that in mind this painting clearly becomes associated with rape.
Though it can be very closely attributed to certain works of literature, either way the painting leaves a feeling of uncomfort with the viewer.
It could be seen as a woman just undressing and a very creepy man coming in, this doesn’t seem to likely, especially when we see his hat is on the other side of the room, there has been movement. There are a few aspects that to strange to be overlooked.
One is that though most of her clothes are on the bed, the corset lies on the ground, in a mess.
Second and most important, is on the bed besides her clothes is a strange line of color which appears to be blood. It is only a small hint though so it leaves many questions.
It is a complex painting, but the interpretation is different for every viewer, you see what you want to see.