Interior

Interior
Artist Edgar Degas
Year 1868–1869
Medium Oil on canvas
Location Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Dimensions 32 in × 45 in
81.3 cm × 114.3 cm
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Interior
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Interior is an oils on canvas painted by Edgar Degas in 1868-69. The painting measures 32 by 45 inches, and is currently held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the USA.

Composition

The painting is of a bedroom scene with two people present. To the right of the picture, a somewhat sinister, shadowy male figure is standing with his back to the closed door, upon which his shadow looms large, adding to the air of menace.

He is looking at a partially undressed young woman who has her back to him, and is holding a posture that some have interpreted as flinching. On a round table in the center of the room there is a lamp that provides the only source of light in the painting.

There is also a small suitcase lying open on the table with an article of clothing protruding. On the floor lies another item of female clothing, a corset. The single bed in the room appears to be undisturbed.

Mystery

Interior is the most enigmatic of Degas’s major paintings. Many experts have tried to discover the source of Degas’s inspiration for the work, and opinions remain divided about the various suggestions.

Even the name of the painting has an air of mystery about it, because the painting has also been named by some of Degas’s associates as “le viol,” which translates as “the rape.” However, when the painting was first exhibited in 1905, it was listed as Interior.

Some interpreters have suggested that there are traces of blood depicted on the bed cover, suggesting something violent has occurred, while others think these traces are just shadows thrown by small creases.

The most likely source of Degas’s inspiration is a lithograph by Paul Gavanni dating from 1841, which has many similarities in composition to Interior. Furthermore, Degas was a keen admirer of Gavanni’s work, and owned at least 2,000 of his lithographic works.

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