Presented at the eighth Impressionist exhibition in 1886, this pastel is one of a series of seven pictures produced by Degas in the mid 1880's on the theme of women at their ablutions, a subject
already explored by the artist in a series of monotypes some ten years previously.
His minute observation of their intimate, everyday gestures is a far cry from the traditional romantic scenes of ladies at their toilette. The young woman's pose, sometimes interpreted by contemporary critics as the expression of a certain animality, is derived from that of the Crouching Aphrodite of antiquity.
Its still life of toilet articles, with a distorted Japanese-style perspective, and its plunging view, make this pastel one of the most audacious and accomplished of Degas' works on the modern theme of the woman in her bathtub.