Sotheby’s London to Auction Edgar Degas’s ‘Little Dancer’ for an Estimated $23 Million
Sotheby’s London will auction Edgar Degas’s Petite danseuse de quatorze ans (1881) at the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on June 24, for an estimated £10-15 million ($15-23 million).
The sculpture is one of 29 existing casts of the original wax model—27 in bronze and two in plaster.
Degas intended to first show the work at the Fifth Impressionist Exhibition in 1880, but the artist, famous for his re-workings, did not feel satisfied with the work in time for the exhibition.
Instead, it was displayed, complete with a muslin skirt and satin hair ribbon, the following year. The bronze version of the statue which will be auctioned on June 24 was cast in 1922.
Marie van Goethem was the model for Little Dancer. Degas studied the form of the ballet student, barely 14 at the time, extensively through drawing before sculpting the final form. The sculpture was initially both embraced and reprimanded for its modernism and realism, but today is generally viewed as Degas’ masterpiece (see Degas’ Little Dancer Inspires New Musical).
Most other versions of Little Dancer belong to museums and institutions. Last year, one version was at the center of a scandal when it disappeared in a fraudulent transaction between dealer Rose Ramey Long and investor Luke Brugnara (see Real Estate Mogul Mixed Up in $11 Million Art Fraud, Dealer Sued Over Missing Degas Statue, Insurer Won’t Pay for Lost Degas Dancer Worth $3 Million, and Art Thief and Real Estate Mogul Luke Brugnara Escapes Federal Custody).
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