The painting of A Woman with a Towel by Edgar Degas is found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here we have a nude image of a woman who stands coyly, facing away form her spectators. The woman’s curvy figure twists in an effort to move. The sudden, sharp brush strokes gives the painting a needed shape and texture. It also creates movement and reveals the layers of color the painter used. The name, A woman with a towel, arose from what I believe the painting was made for; to appeal to the collector, specifically the men. She shows apparent form of contrapposto taken from the classical era.
I found this painting most similar to Edourd Manet’s version of Venus, Olympia. The influence of classical movement and color in both paintings create a small link between the two. The painting of Olympia is a lot more softer and lacks any added texture. It also uses more paler colors focusing on details as compared to A Woman with a Towel. Olympia is also less idealized and appealing to the viewer as opposed to Degas’ artwork. Another fact I found interesting was that Degas used his fingers to smudge and scrape his painting to give the illusion of texture, meanwhile Manet did not.
The difference between Olympia and A Woman with a Towel remind me of what we learned in classics concerning women in Roman history. These women had no position in public, and no written accord in history. They were of no importance than to be a tool in bonding families and to please their husbands. Hence, because names were really important to Romans, all the women in the family had the same name. The idea behind Monet’s painting of Olympia was meant to make the public more aware of the making of art as opposed to drawing attention to the sexuality of the woman. Furthermore, Olympia was made as a representation of the Goddess Venus. The Romans would have found this painting to be a fraud because it was to symbolize the birth of the goddess, Venus. Olympia, on the other hand, is more open with her demeaning gaze. She would seem notorious for the way she looks directly at us as compared to the woman with a towel who shyly averts her gaze. Olympia’s hard gaze would have been thought as atrocious to the Roman men because they would not even have seen a painting of a nude woman.
Khilola, Team Juno