In the work of Eugène Atget, the destination of the few rare female nudes that have come down to us still remains uncertain. Were they "documents for artists" or were they part of the commission by André Dignimont for a book about prostitutes? For this project, during the spring of 1921, Atget took a few images of girls out "plying their trade". One was published by Man Ray in The Surrealist Revolution (15 June 1926).
This nude by Atget belongs to a series from which two other images are known today (one is in the International Museum of Photography in Rochester and the other in the Bokelberg collection in Hamburg). The same young woman was photographed in different poses inside a bourgeois room. In spite of the model's heavy build, Atget uses the pose and radiant light to give her a certain Ingresque grace.
In the Musée d'Orsay image, the decor of the apartment can be more easily distinguished: it is that of a bibliophile and art lover. Although there is no element to date it as late as 1921, it may well have been a study for Dignimont's abortive project.