Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION 
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Tête, étude pour le portrait de Madame S

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Tête, étude pour le portrait de Madame S
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658; on the side of the neck); numbered and stamped with the foundry mark '27/C CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD' (on the back of the neck)
bronze with dark brown patina
9 1/8 in. (23 cm.)
Original wax version executed circa 1892; 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
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. 27 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. XXX, p. 83 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. XXX (another cast illustrated pl. 147).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera Completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S70 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 117 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonn, San Francisco, 1990, no. XXX, p. 98 (another cast illustrated).
A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 70 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, no. 402, vol CXLII, August 1995, no. 27, p. 24 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 27, p. 175 (another cast illustrated).
S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, no. 60, pp. 338-343 (the clay version llustrated p. 339).
Paris, Galerie Max Kaganovitch, Edgar Degas, 1952, no. 120.
New York, Galerie Chalette, The Sculptures of Edgar Degas, October 1955, no. 12.
Manchester, Thomson Whitworth Art Gallery, Private Degas, January - February 1987 (illustrated fig. 18); this exhibition later travelled to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, March - May 1987.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

As well as his sculptures of horses, dancers and bathers, Edgar Degas' range was such that he also conceived a small number of portrait heads and busts. He executed at least five three-dimensional portraits, only three of which now survive. Of these, two have been identified as portraying Mathilde Salle (1867-1934). A celebrated Opéra dancer and performer, Mathilde Salle was known to have been of particularly vivacious and gregarious character and was at the height of her career when she sat for the present sculpture. That she was a 'modern' woman who frequently appeared in roles dressed as a man, and who rode a bicycle and played sports perhaps appealed to Degas, for he also depicted her in a triple portrait pastel of 1886 (Lemoisne 868) and in a small painting on panel that probably dates to the late 1880s (Lemoisne 1365 bis; sold Christie's, Paris, 3 December 2007, lot 41).
The present bronze portrait has been dated to 1892 on the basis of Degas' correspondence with the sculptor Paul-Albert Bartholomé who was also making his own plaster bust and half-length marble of her at the time. In fact, Degas' letters suggest that he created his sculpted heads of Mathilde Salle in Bartholomé's studio where the sitter posed for both artists (see Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S. G. Sturman, Edgar Degas: Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, p. 341). The differences between Bartholomé's rendering and Degas' own, however, are remarkable.
Where Bartholomé created a portrait that in Degas' words was 'attractive, a little eighteenth century, noble', the present sculpture has a roughly hewn quality and robustness that lends it an expressive power and immediacy (see T. Reff, Christie's sale catalogue, Collection Jeanne Lanvin, Paris, 3 December 2007, lot 41). Although this work, like Degas' other surviving portrait of Mathilde Salle, is described as an étud or study, here he has captured a remarkable likeness, depicting her with lively animated features, a distinctively rounded face and full, fleshy lips.

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