The important & iconic sculpture Petite danseuse de quatorze ans by impressionist artist Edgar Degas was offered for sale in Sotheby’s Art Evening Auction of Impressionist and Modern Art in London on the 3rd of February 2009.
La Petite danseuse is one of the most ambitious and iconic of Degas’s works and a groundbreaking sculpture from the Impressionist period. The bronze cast to be offered at Sotheby’s is one of only a handful of casts remaining in private hands.
Created in wax circa 1879-81, Petite danseuse was the only sculpture to have been exhibited during the artist’s lifetime. Using a wire armature for the body and hemp for the arms and hands, Degas worked in modelling wax, dressing the figure in real silk, tulle and gauze. The wig came from Madame Cusset, supplier of ‘hair for puppets and dolls’. The wax sculpture was found in Degas’s studio following his death in 1917 and cast in bronze in from 1922.
His model was Marie van Goethem, the daughter of a Belgian tailor and laundress, who was a ballet student at the Opéra and among the dancers of the Opéra who were of particular interest to Degas at this time.
Estimated at 9-12 millions GBP, the Danseuse reached 13,25 millions including buyer's premium. Since 2001 the Degas price index rise 67%. Morale of the sale : the Danseuse is kidding the current crisis.