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What I find particularly strong in this painting is the guy's gaze. Its total lack of compassion, the door is locked with no way of escape and a cold factual look.
Perhaps this is how Degas sees the painter's gaze - a cold compassionless gaze of interest. Perhaps interest is not the right word, as one can also describe it as disinterested - the guy is not interested in what the woman feels, but he is interested in her body. This reminds me of Werner Herzog's description in Grizzly Man of the bear's gaze looking at a man he is going to eat - a disinterested and compassionless gaze on his food, the gaze of nature. Is this the gaze of the painter?
Notice also his hat on the lintel to the left. It seems at first that she has some refuge in the space to the left, but in some ways she is surrounded. And this very strange detail of the piece of clothing on the floor --- with the open box -- and the shoulder of the gown.
There are often moments intermixed with scenes of violence where nothing, exactly, happens. In some sense this is what makes the painting so emotionally charged for me, almost difficult to watch.