[Bending female nude]

17 5/8 x 11 15/16 in. (44.8 x 30.3 cm)
Estate/Inventory Number
N 90
National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1986.56.565. © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko
This watercolor recalls several mid-1880s pastels by Edgar Degas of a woman bathing in a shallow tub. Rothko could, feasibly, have seen an exemplary work from the series that was bequeathed by Louisine Havermeyer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929; it was included in an exhibition of Havermeyer’s collection from March 11 to November 2, 1930 (fig. 1). If Rothko knew the Degas pastel, he has replicated the pose but reversed the perspective in the current work. Using minimal means, he appears to have outlined the contours of the tub with bold blue strokes and suggested the folds and shadows of Degas’s white towel in the wavy white/orange and blue brushstrokes at upper right.
[Bending female nude]
1. Edgar Degas, Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub, 1885, charcoal and pastel on light green wove paper, Metropolitan Museum of Art, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929, 29.100.41.