Born in 1834, Edgar Degas was one of the most celebrated artists of his generation. Considered one of the founding fathers of impressionism, he worked across a variety of mediums including painting, pastel, drawing and sculpture.
Whilst Degas’ sculptures form a significant part of his oeuvre, none of these works (mostly modeled in wax and clay) were cast in bronze during his lifetime. In fact, Degas only ever exhibited one sculpture, that of Little Dancer, Aged 14, which was shown at the Impressionist exhibition of 1881 in Paris.
The work, which combined wax modeling with miniature clothing and a horsehair wig, was met with a rapturous reception. The collector Mrs Havemeyer exclaimed that ‘Paris could scarcely maintain its equilibrium. He (Degas) became the hero of the hour, his statue discussed by all the art world.’(Reff, 1976, p. 239)