Degas: Little Dancer Rediscovered

27 Mar Degas: Little Dancer Rediscovered

Stair Sainty is delighted to announce we will exhibiting a bronze of Edgar Degas’s iconic sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which records the sculpture’s pose as it appeared at the 1881 Impressionist Exhibition. This follows the recent publication of a monograph on the work by art historian Dr. Gregory Hedberg, in which he demonstrates that the bronzes known to museum visitors around the world, from the Tate, London, to the Metropolitan Museum, New York to the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, actually represent Degas’s reworking of the original sculpture.

Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen) depicts a young student of the Paris Opera Ballet school, a Belgian girl named Marie van Goethem. The wax sculpture, found in Degas’s studio after his death in 1917, was cast in bronze over a forty odd year period beginning in 1922 at the Hébrard foundry (known as the Hébrard bronzes) until it went out of business in 1935 and then at the Valsuani foundry. The plaster cast (referred to as the Valsuani plaster) after its earlier incarnation was found at the Valsuani foundry in the mid-1990s when the present bronze was cast. In his book, Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen: The Earlier Version That Helped Spark the Birth of Modern Art, Hedberg demonstrates that not only is this a cast of the original 1881 wax sculpture, but that it was made in Degas’s lifetime. 

Says Guy Stair Sainty: ‘Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen is one of the most renowned examples of western art and the discovery of the plaster which Dr. Hedberg convincingly argues, records the wax as it was presented in 1881 gives us a better understanding of Degas and his artistic development. The startling differences with the bronzes cast from the wax found in Degas’s studio after his death are a revelation and explain why contemporary descriptions of the original bodice, leggings, horse hair wig, pose and Egyptian qualities of the the first version of Degas’s wax better match details recorded by the bronze that will be shown at the Stair Sainty Gallery.’

Degas: Little Dancer Rediscovered will be open weekdays, 10am – 6pm, from 27th April to 26th May 2017.

For more information, please contact the gallery

Degas: Little Dancer Rediscovered was last modified: March 29th, 2017 by Thomas Smith