Woman Combing Her Hair, ca. 1888–90, pastel on cardboard, 61.3 x 46 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Realism required that the nude should be depicted in a situation of credible reality and not artificially posed as some character of fable. Impressionism no doubt contributed the idea that just as the landscape painter caught transient effects of light so it was possible to catch natural and transient phases of movement in the living model. The credible reality was usually that of bathers in the open. Degas made a logical enlargement of his field of study in depicting women in various stages of undress at their toilet or getting into and out of le tub. With its unconventional pose, this pastel shows the concentrated force of form and color he was able to attain.