EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)
EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)
EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)
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EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)
9 More
EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)

Femme assise dans un fauteuil, s'essuyant la hanche gauche

EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)
Femme assise dans un fauteuil, s'essuyant la hanche gauche
stamped with signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658; on the top of the base); numbered and stamped with foundry mark '54/B AA HEBRARD CIRE PERDUE' (on the front)
bronze with reddish-brown patina
Height: 17 3⁄4 in. (45 cm.)
Conceived circa 1896-1911; this bronze version cast by 1921 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, Oslo (by 1921).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (by 1922).
Ferargil Galleries, New York (by 1925).
Frank Crowninshield, New York (by 1928); sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 20-21 October 1943, lot 138.
Joseph H. Hirshhorn, New York; sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 10 November 1948, lot 29.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owners.
J. Rewald, Degas: Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, p. 28, no. LXXI (another cast illustrated, pls. 138-139).
J. Rewald, Degas Sculpture: The Complete Works, New York, 1956, p. 157, no. LXXI (another cast illustrated, pl. 83).
F. Russoli and F. Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, p. 144, no. S59 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture: Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, pp. 180-181, no. LXXI (another cast illustrated; another cast illustrated again).
S. Campbell, "Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné," Apollo, vol. CXLII, no. 402, August 1995, p. 37, no. 54 (another cast illustrated, fig. 52; another cast illustrated again in color, p. 9).
J. S. Czestochowski and A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, pp. 227, no. 54 (original wax model illustrated and another cast illustrated in color; another cast illustrated in color, p. 226).
S. Campbell, R. Kendall, D.S. Barbour and S.G. Sturman, Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, 2009, vol. II, pp. 461-464 and 542, no. 94 (original wax model illustrated and another cast illustrated in color, pp. 461-463).
S.G. Lindsay, D.S. Barbour and S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2010, pp. 302-306, no. 53 (original wax model illustrated in color; original wax model illustrated again, p. 304).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Bronzes by Degas, December 1922, no. 59.
London, The Leicester Galleries (Ernest Brown & Phillips, Ltd.), Works in Sculpture of Edgar Degas, February-March 1923, no. 67.
Rome, Casa Editrice d'Arte Enzo Pinci, Seconda Biennale Romana, Mostra Internazionale di Belle Arti, November 1923-April 1924.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Degas, April-May 1924, no. 320.
New York, Ferargil Galleries, Sculptures of Edgar Degas, October-November 1925, no. 67.
Northampton, Smith College Museum of Art, Edgar Degas: Paintings, Drawings, Pastels, Sculpture, November-December 1933.

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Lot Essay

"As far as I can remember, whenever I called on Degas, I was almost as sure to find him modeling in clay as painting," the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel once remarked (quoted in Degas at the Races, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, p. 180). In the 1880s, sculpture became central to Degas’ examination of the female form. The present bronze, Femme assise dans un fauteuil, s'essuyant la hanche gauche, which depicts a seated bather engaged in an intimate act of personal toilette, marks a radical departure from traditional conceptions of feminine beauty. Here, Degas leverages the body’s expressive potential through a natural yet unconventional pose that shows the nude afresh. The figure twists her torso as she leans forward to dry her left hip, the movement of which is offset by the armchair on which she sits.
Such domestic appurtenances also contribute to Degas’ original conception of the theme, for the sight of a contemporary woman in a state of undress would have certainly affronted nineteenth-century bourgeois sensibilities. A far cry from classical nudes à la Venus, this sculpture employs a complex visual language that elevates the iconographic novelty of this bathing bourgeoise.
Degas himself discussed his new perspective on the female nude and the intimisme that runs through all his treatments of the subject: “Hitherto the nude has always been represented in poses which presuppose an audience, but these women of mine are honest, simple folk, unconcerned by any other interests than those involved in their physical condition. Here is another; she is washing her feet. It is as if you looked through the keyhole” (quoted in R. Kendall, ed., Degas by Himself: Drawings, Prints, Paintings, Writings, London, 1987, p. 311). In the case of Femme assise dans un fauteuil, s'essuyant la hanche gauche, that sense of a stolen glimpse into the woman's private realm is palpable. These bathers are a domestic counterpart to the images of ballerinas shown in the wings of the theatre or in rehearsal, captured between their formal routines, and therefore provides an intriguing sense of the reality that underlies art. Degas adds another twist by using models that he himself posed and directed, meaning that his depictions of this supposed reality were in fact attained through a process that itself relied upon artifice.
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