Édouard Manet

red chalk drawing of seated woman holding towel to her chest

Édouard Manet (1832–83)
La Toilette
Red chalk, contours incised for transfer
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Courtauld Bequest, 1948

Manet made this drawing in preparation for an etching, reversed as part of the printing process. The central figure's contours have been incised for transfer to the copper plate. The use of red chalk — unusual by the mid-nineteenth century — and the time-honored subject of the female bather reveal Manet's engagement with predecessors such as Rembrandt, whose works he admired. This preliminary drawing shows him experimenting with the position and pose of the figure behind the bather. Traces of his initial ideas are visible at upper left.

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