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

Danseuse au repos, les mains sur les reins, la jambe droite en avant

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Danseuse au repos, les mains sur les reins, la jambe droite en avant
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658; on the top of the base); numbered and stamped with the foundry mark '41/HER CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD' (on the side of the base)
bronze with dark brown and green patina
17 7/8 in. (45.5 cm.)
Original wax version executed circa mid 1880s - 1890s; 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
The Hébrard family, Paris.
Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Paris.
Acquired by the present owner in the 1970s.
Exh. cat., Exposition des sculptures de Degas, Galerie A.A. Hébrard, Paris, May - June 1921, no. 41 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas: Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, London, 1944, p. 22, no. XXIII, p. 22 (another cast illustrated pp. 72-73).
L. Browse, Degas Dancers, London, 1949, no. 196 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. XXIII (another cast illustrated pls. 55-56 & fig. 7).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S.24 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 47 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Studies in Post-Impressionism, New York, 1986, no. 33, p. 142 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture: Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, no. XXIII, p. 82 (the wax version illustrated; another cast illustrated p. 83).
A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 22 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, 'Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, no. 402, vol. CXLII, August 1995, no. 63, pp. 41-42 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 41, p. 201 (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).
Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, Exposition Degas, September - November 1976, no. 92; this exhibition later travelled to Kyoto, Museum of the City; and Fukuoka, Cultural Centre. Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, on loan.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

Among the wax sculptures that were discovered in Edgar Degas' studio after his death and which survived the transformation into bronze, the theme of the dancer at rest was one that recurred several times, showing its incredible importance to the artist. Conceived around 1882-95, Danseuse au repos, les mains sur les reins, la jambe droite en avant shows a dancer, seemingly devoid of clothing, appearing to stretch and relax in a moment of calm either before or after her vigorous exertions on the stage or in rehearsal. Her arms are bent behind her back, forming triangular loops within the sculpture, as she arches her back a little, appearing to push her torso forwards, emphasising the spring-like nature of the human body, and in particular a highly trained dancer's. This was a pose that Degas would explore in a number of his paintings and drawings as well, several of which are in museum collections: he was clearly drawn to its ability to conjure an impression of informality, providing us with an intriguing snapshot into the life of the ballerina. The position of the dancer, which appears so much more hieratic here in its incarnation in the nude, in part recalls ancient statuary, such as the ancient Greek sculptures of the kouros which always showed a striding male. Certainly, there is an exultory and near-ritual elegance to the posture evoked in Danseuse au repos, les mains sur les reins, la jambe droite en avant, with the face straining upwards and the back arching gently, the body a sturdy pyramid with the legs apart, one in front of the other.
As well as his models of the dancer at rest shown essentially in the nude, Degas also created another sculpture on a fractionally smaller scale which showed a clothed dancer, the Danseuse habillé au repos, les mains sur les reins, la jambe droite en avant. It is the existence of this dressed dancer and of her pictorial counterparts that confirms that Degas, in creating his Danseuse au repos, les mains sur les reins, la jambe droite en avant, was looking at dancers in these images behind the scenes. However, in the nude version, the context of the ballet is removed, making it a more universal celebration of female grace, beauty and motion.

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