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Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
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Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Cheval à l'abreuvoir

Details
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Cheval à l'abreuvoir
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658), inscribed and stamped with the foundry mark 13 CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD (on the top of the base)
bronze
Height: 6½ in. (16.5 cm.)
Original wax model executed circa mid-late 1860s; cast from 1920-1921 by the A.A. Hébrard foundry in an edition of twenty, numbered A to T, plus two casts reserved for the Degas heirs and the founder
Provenance
Albino Palazzolo, Paris, by whom acquired from the above.
Yvon Palazzolo, Chiavari.
Anonymous sale, Htel Drouot, Paris, 21 June 1993, lot 13.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
Exh. cat., Exposition des sculptures de Degas, Galerie A.A. Hébrard, Paris, May - June 1921, no. 13 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. II, p. 19 (another cast illustrated p. 35).
J. Rewald, Degas's Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. II (another cast illustrated pl. 2).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S42 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 9 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, no. II, p. 46 (the wax version illustrated; another cast illustrated p. 47).
A. Pingeot, Degas' Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 42 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, Degas, 'The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné
, in Apollo, August 1995, no. 402, vol. CXLII, no. 13, p. 17 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 13, p. 147 (another cast illustrated).
S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, p. 369 (the wax version illustrated).
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

The naturalistically rendered Cheval l'abreuvoir is traditionally dated to 1866- 68, making it one of Edgar Degas' earliest surviving sculptures. This dating is based upon the similarity of the horse's pose and the slope of the ground to that which appears in his important painting Mademoiselle Fiocre dans le ballet 'La Source', a picture often considered one of Degas' earliest depictions of the ballet. Featuring the titular subject sitting by a pool next to a horse, this work was first exhibited at the Salon of 1868. As Ann Dumas has observed, however, a number of drawings that appear to be connected with the wax model for this bronze date from the early 1860s and may indicate that the sculpture precedes the painting and perhaps even served as a model for the horse in it (see A. Dumas, 'Degas: Sculptor/Painter', in J.C. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné, Memphis, 2002, p. 40). Daphne Barbour and Shelley Sturman also believe that Cheval à l'abreuvoir predates the painting but suggest that its careful construction, elaborately modelled surface and finely incised lines articulating the horse's mane, signal that it is a highly finished work rather than a model.
In his review of the painting Mademoiselle Fiocre dans le ballet 'La Source', Èmile Zola wrote of the horse's 'magnificent' coat (Zola, quoted in J. Sutherland Boggs, Degas at the Races, exh. cat., Washington, 1998, p. 34). This is no less true of the present sculpture, where attention has been lavished upon the horse's anatomy and flesh. In this, and in its restrained, sedate pose, Cheval à l'abreuvoir provides a fascinating contrast to his later studies of horses in motion. This masterfully naturalistic rendition of the horse contrasts with the severe realism of the academic equine sculptures Degas would have seen at the Salon.

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