Le bain (1905)

Valadon, Suzanne (1865-1938)

Le bain (The Bath)
Pastel on paper, 68.5 × 54.8 cm
Art Institute of ChicagoChicago

While she received little formal artistic training, Suzanne Valadon had many opportunities to observe artists at work as she modelled for painters such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Valadon’s experiences as an artist’s model informed her own renderings of female subjects, whom she portrayed sympathetically and realistically as they engage in everyday domestic activities. The Bath is one such deliberately rough and unidealized scene: a young girl bathes with the help of her grandmother. Despite their physical intimacy, the child looks away, her icy blue stare complicating the nurturing relationship a viewer might expect from this type of scene. (AIC)