The Tub (1886) is part of Impressionist Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas's series of women bathing and dressing, in which he pioneered a new approach to the nude. The academic formulation of the nude was based on beauty, and the figure was composed in a way that celebrated the regularity of proportion and the grace of movement. Degas preferred to portray the accidental gesture, as if the figure was caught unawares. Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas heightened this sense of voyeurism with a high point of view, looking down at the figure and into the tub.
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.