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

Cheval à l’abreuvoir

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Cheval à l’abreuvoir
stamped with signature, numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'Degas 13/G A.A. Hébrard Cire Perdue' (on the top of the base)
bronze with black patina
Length: 8 ¾ in. (22.2 cm.)
Height: 6 ¼ in. (15.9 cm.)
Original wax model conceived circa 1865-1868; this bronze version cast by 1924 in an edition numbered A to T, plus two casts reserved for the Degas heirs and the founder Hébrard marked HER.D and HER respectively
Walther Halvorsen, London (1924).
Sixth Viscount Henry Gage, Firle Place, East Sussex.
Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by Achim Moeller Fine Art on behalf of John C. Whitehead, 1986.
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, p. 19, no. II (another cast illustrated, pl. 35).
J. Rewald, Degas, Sculpture, The Complete Works, New York, 1957, p. 141, no. II (another cast illustrated, pl. 2).
F. Russoli and F. Minervino, L’Opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, p. 142, no. S 42 (another cast illustrated, p. 143).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1979, p. IX (another cast illustrated, pl. 9).
A. Moeller, The John C. Whitehead Collection, A Collection in Progress Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters, New York, 1987, p. 40 (illustrated, p. 41).
A. Dumas, Degas’s Mlle. Fiocre in Context, Brooklyn, 1988, p. 33 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, pp. 46-47, no. II (original wax model and another cast illustrated).
A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, p. 173, no. 42 (original wax model and another cast illustrated, pp. 100-101).
S. Campbell, "Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné," Apollo, vol. CXLII, no. 402, August 1995, p. 17 (another cast illustrated, fig. 13).
J.S. Czestochowski and A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, p. 147, no. 13 (other casts and original wax model illustrated, p. 146).
S.G. Lindsay, D.S. Barbour and S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, exh. cat, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2010, p. 369 (original wax model illustrated).
The Montclair Art Museum, Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters, The John C. Whitehead Collection, April-June 1989, p. 31, no. 32.
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, The Whitehead Collection, Late 19th and 20th Century French Masters, A Collection in Progress, April-May 1997, p. 26, no. 26 (illustrated in color, p. 27).

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Morgan Schoonhoven
Morgan Schoonhoven

Lot Essay

The naturalistically rendered Cheval l'abreuvoir is traditionally dated to 1865-1868, 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 (A. Dumas, "Degas, Sculptor/Painter," in J.S. Czestochowski and A. Pingeot, op. cit., p. 40). Daphne Barbour and Shelley Sturman also believe that Cheval à l'abreuvoir predates the painting but suggest that its careful construction, elaborately modeled 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," Emile Zola wrote of the horse's "magnificent" coat (quoted in J. Sutherland Boggs, Degas at the Races, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 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 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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