Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917)

Petite danseuse de quatorze ans

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
Circa 1878-1881
    Bronze with brown patina, tulle skirt and satin ribbon on wooden base
  • Cast by A. A. Hébrard, Paris, circa 1922
96.5 × 47 × 35 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Stamped with the foundry mark ‘CIRE / PERDUE / A.A HEBRARD / MODELE / 06/’ (on the left thigh), stamped again with the foundry mark ‘CIRE / PERDUE / A.A HEBRARD’ (on the base), incised illegibly (on the left foot)
Provenance

César de Hauke, Paris

M. Knoedler, New York

Private collection, New York

Acquavella Galleries, New York

Private collection, since 1975

Exhibited

Lausanne, Fondation de l’Hermitage, L’Impressionnisme dans les collections romandes (ses précurseurs, ses maîtres, son héritage), 16 June - 21 October 1984, no. 35, ill.

Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Classics of Modern Art, 27 June - 19 September 1999, pp. 38-43, ill. pp. 39, 41 and 42

Literature

Henry Havard, “L’Exposition des artistes indépendants”, Le siècle, 3 April 1881, p. 2

Gustave Goetschy, “Exposition des artistes indépendants”, La Justice, 4 April 1881, p. 3

Gustave Goetschy, “Exposition des artistes indépendants”, Le Voltaire, 5 April 1881, p. 2

Jules Claretie, “La vie à Paris: Les artistes indépendants”, Le Temps, 5 April 1881

Gustave Goetschy, “Indépendants et impressionistes [sic]”, Le Voltaire, 6 April 1880, p. 2

Auguste Dalign, “Les Indépendants. Sixième exposition”, Le Journal des Arts, 8 April 1881, p. 1

Charles Ephrussi, “Exposition des artistes indépendants”, La chronique des arts et de la curiosité, 16 April 1881, pp. 126-127

Élie de Mont, “L’Exposition du Boulevard des Capucines”, La Civilisation, 21 April 1881, pp. 1-2

Bertall, “Exposition des peintres intransigeants et nihilistes”, Paris-Journal, 22 April 1881, pp. 1-2

Paul de Charry, “Les Indépendants”, Le Pays, 22 April 1881, p. 3

Paul Mantz, “Exposition des œuvres des artistes indépendants”, Le Temps, 22 April 1881, p. 3

Nina de Villars, “Variétés. Exposition des artistes indépendants”, Le Courrier du soir, 23 April 1881, p. 2

Henry Trianon, “Exposition des artistes indépendants”, Le Courrier du Soir, 23 April 1881, p. 2

Henry Trianon, “Sixième exposition de peinture par un groupe d’artistes”, Le Constitutionnel, 24 April 1881, pp. 2-3

Jules Claretie, La vie à Paris. 1881, Paris, 1881, pp. 150-151

Comtesse Louise, “Lettres familières sur l’art”, La Œuvre nouvelle, 1-2 May 1881, pp. 2-3

Joris-Karl Huysmans, L’Art Moderne, Paris, 1883, pp. 226-227

George Moore, “The Painter of Modern Life”, Magazine of Art, 1890, pp. 416-425

[Charles Whibley?], “Modern Men: Degas”, National Observer, 31 October 1891, pp. 603-604

Paul Gsell, “Edgar Degas, statuaire”, La Renaissance de l’art français, I, December 1918, pp. 374, 376, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 375

Paul Lafond, Degas, Paris, 1918-1919, vol. II, pp. 111-113, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 112

Jacques-Émile Blanche, Propos de peintre, Paris, 1919, p. 54

Paul Lafond, Degas, Paris, 1919, vol. II, pp. 64-66

Paul-André Lemoisne, “Les Statuettes de Degas”, Art de décoration, September-October 1919, pp. 111-113, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 112

François Thiébaut-Sisson, “Degas sculpteur”, Le Temps, 23 May 1921, p. 3

Julius Meier-Graefe, Degas, London, 1923, p. 60

Ambroise Vollard, Degas 1834-1917, Paris, 1924, p. 63

Paul Jamot, Degas, Paris, 1924, p. 149, ill. of the wax sculpture pl. 52

Germain Bazin, “Degas sculpteur”, L’Amour de l’art, Paris, 1931, pp. 294-295, ill. of the wax sculpture fig. 70 and 71

Georges Grappe, Degas, Paris, 1936, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 58

Lionello Venturi, Les archives de l’impressionnisme, Paris, 1939, vol. II, p. 138

John Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture. A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. XX, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 66, another cast illustrated pp. 61, 63-65, 68-69

Marguerite Rebatet, Degas, Paris, 1944, another bronze cast illustrated pl. 102

Paul-André Lemoisne, Degas et son œuvre, Paris, 1946, vol. I, another bronze cast illustrated p. 129

Lillian Browse, Degas Dancers, New York, 1949, no. 96, p. 370, another bronze cast illustrated pls. 96-97

Pierre Borel, Les Sculptures inédites de Degas, Geneva, 1949

Alfred Moritz Frankfurter, “The Goetz Collection,” Art News, September 1951, ill. p. 26

John Rewald, Degas. Sculpture, New York, 1956, no. XX, a non-identified bronze cast illustrated pls. 24-29

Pierre Cabanne, Degas, Tisné, Paris, 1957

Pierre Cabanne, Edgar Degas, New York, 1958, pp. 66-67, another bronze cast illustrated pls. X-XI

John Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1961, another bronze cast illustrated p. 451

Louisine W. Havemeyer, Sixteen to Sixty. Memoirs of a collector, New York, 1961, pp. 254-255

Hjorvardur Harvard Arnason, History of Modern Art, New York, 1968, another bronze cast illustrated p. 76

Jacques Lassaigne and Fiorella Minervino, Tout l’œuvre peint de Degas, Milan, 1970, p. 145, another bronze cast illustrated no. S73

Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino, L’Opera completa di Degas, Rizzoli, Milan, 1970

Jean Adhémar and Françoise Cachin, Edgar Degas. Gravures et monotypes, Paris, 1973, pl. XXXI, another cast illustrated

Theodore Reff, Degas. The Artist’s Mind, New York, 1976, pp. 239-248, another bronze cast illustrated fig. 157-162

Charles W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, pp. 8-9, 27-29, 119-126, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 62

Ian Dunlop, Degas, New York, 1979, another bronze cast illustrated fig. 172

Roy McMullen, Degas. His Life, Times and Work, Boston, 1984, pp. 327, 329, 333-336, 338-340, 343-344, 347

Degas Form and Space, ed. Maurice Guillaud, Paris and New York, 1984, fig. 155

Paul-André Lemoisne, Degas et son œuvre, New York and London, 1984, vol. 1, another bronze cast illustrated p. 129

Lois Relin, “La ‘Danseuse de quatorze ans’ de Degas, son tutu et sa perruque”, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, sér. VI, November 1984, pp. 173-174, ill. of the wax sculpture fig. 1

George T. M. Shackelford, Degas The Dancers, Washington, 1984, no. 18, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 134, another bronze cast illustrated p. 134

Horst Waldemar Janson, 19th Century Sculpture, New York, 1985, pp. 193-194, another bronze cast illustrated fig. 219

Denys Sutton, Edgar Degas. Life and Work, New York, 1986, p. 183, another bronze cast illustrated p. 182

Frances Weitzenhoffer, The Havemeyers. Impressionism comes to America, New York, 1986, pp. 242-243, 256, another bronze cast illustrated pl. 166

Richard Thomson, Degas, The Nudes, London, 1988, no. 113, ill. of the wax sculpture p. 263, another cast illustrated p. 123

Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge, Degas, New York, 1988, another bronze cast illustrated pp. 206-207

Anne Roquebert, Degas, Paris, 1988, another bronze cast illustrated p. 55

Henri Loyrette, Degas, Paris, 1991, pp. 387, 391-394, 402, 612-614, 672

Anne Pingeot and Frank Horvat, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, pp. 188-190, no. 73, ill. on the cover, another bronze cast illustrated pp. 33-35, 188-190

Sara Campbell, “Degas, The Sculpture: A Catalogue Raisonné”, Apollo, vol. CXLII, no. 402, August 1995, pp. 46-47, another bronze cast illustrated on the cover

Martine Kahane, Delphine Pinasa, Wilfride Piollet and Sara Campbell, “Enquête sur la Petite Danseuse de quatorze ans de Degas”, La revue du Musée d’Orsay, Autumn 1998, p. 69, no. 6, another bronze cast illustrated p. 70

Richard Kendall, Degas and the Little Dancer, Yale University Press, London and New Haven, 1998

Richard Kendall, “Tutu Wars”, The Art Newspaper, no. 89, February 1999, p. 55

Edwige Phitoussi, La figure et le pli: Degas, Danse, Dessin de Paul Valéry, Paris, 2009, pp. 168-169

Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 1st
Tour Guide Code
113
Audio Guide

During his lifetime, Edgar Degas exhibited only one sculpture: The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, on the occasion of the 6th impressionist exhibition in 1881. This unique attempt was enough to shake the aesthetic founding principles of sculpture and to pass from an academic discipline to a new way of expressing modern art. The story of this work witnesses Degas’ perpetual quest for the Absolute, whose apparent constant dissatisfaction actually reflected a relentless creativity combined with an exceptional talent for drawing, painting and sculpting. It is also a particularly realistic and tender tribute to the art of dance, which Degas knew more than anyone else to highlight in his work.

Degas immediately decided that Marie, a young student at the Paris Opéra Ballet School that served as a model, would sit for with her feet in the “fourth position”. The model stands in a dynamic but relaxed way, the hands are held behind the back, the head is slightly raised, and the entire appearance reveals all the ambiguity of an adolescent figure deformed by the dancing practice. The thinness, the possible malnutrition suggested by a slightly swollen belly, do not diminish the girl’s sensuality, whose proud position, almost with an air of defiance, may seem, according to observers, dignified, provocative or despising. Not only did Degas limit himself to dress the sculpture with a silk bustier and a real muslin tutu, but also he added real stockings, dance shoes and a silk ribbon on a wig. Of course, all these elements were specially ordered, because of the sculpture size. Then, he continued with dyeing the wax so as to give a fleshier appearance to the skin.

The work was exhibited in a glass display case only for two weeks and received fierce criticism for the innovative combination of materials, the controversial theme of the dancer as a girl with loose morals and the choice of that particular girl, who was neither a woman nor a child, neither beautiful nor graceless.

Degas had been thinking of casting the statue in bronze, but the plan was not realized when he was alive, but only in 1921, when his heirs approved the construction of twenty-seven bronze copies. The present version of the Little dancer aged fourteen is the only one, along with one more copy, that has a round rotating base and not a squared. No intervention in the dancer’s accessories has been made: the skirt and ribbon are the original ones. Sixteen bronze copies of the work adorn museum halls around the world.

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Edgar Degas
(1834 - 1917)
Gender
Man
Nationality
French
First Name
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar
Last Name
Degas
Birth
Paris, France, 1834
Death
Paris, France, 1917
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