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

Arabesque sur la jambe droite, le bras gauche dans la ligne

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Arabesque sur la jambe droite, le bras gauche dans la ligne
signed, numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'Degas 3/HER.D A.A. HEBRARD CIRE PERDUE' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 11 3/8 in. (29 cm.)
Conceived in 1882-1895; this bronze version cast by circa 1950 in an edition of twenty-two, numbered A to T plus two casts reserved for the Degas heirs and the founder Hébrard, respectively
Walter J. Reinemann, New York.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York (bequest from the above, 1970).
Jeffrey H. Loria, New York.
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena (acquired from the above, 1977). Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 14 May 1980, lot 202.
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 23 June 1997, lot 17.
Private collection, New York (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 8 May 2002, lot 209.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, p. 24, no. XLII (original wax model and another cast illustrated, p. 97).
J. Lassaigne and F. Minervino, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Degas, Paris, 1974, p. 140, no. S4 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 46 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture, A Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, pp. 122-123, no. XLII (another cast and original wax model illustrated and another cast illustrated in color, p. 197).
S. Campbell, "A Catalogue of Degas' Bronzes," Apollo, vol. CXLII, no. 402, August 1995, p. 12, no. 3 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski and A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, New York, 2002, p. 127, no. 3 (another cast illustrated in color, pp. 126 and 127; original wax version illustrated, p. 127).
S. Campbell, R. Kendall, D.S. Barbour and S.G. Sturman, Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, 2009, vol. II, pp. 350-353 and 504-505, no. 66 (another cast illustrated in color, pp. 350-352; original wax version illustrated, p. 352).
S.G. Lindsay, D.S. Barbour and S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington, D.C., 2010, p. 369 (original wax version illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Seibu Gallery; Kyoto, Municipal Museum and Fukuoka, Cultural Center Museum, Degas, 1976-1977.
Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1977 (on extended loan).
Sale room notice
Please note this work was cast by circa 1950.

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Edgar Degas' interest in dance dominated his work during the 1880s. During this time he worked on a series of sculptures portraying dancers in different stages of the arabesque pose. Degas' sculpture seems to have grown out of a desire to fully understand different poses of his subjects that he had already explored in paintings, pastels and drawings. While it is almost certain that Degas used his wax sculptures as models for some of his later drawings and paintings, he also seems to have gained much pleasure from the act of modeling wax and clay for its own sake. He had no intention of exhibiting these sculptures in public--a fact that emphasizes the essentially private and exploratory aspect of this part of his oeuvre.

The choice of the dancer was a natural progression from his earlier equine sculptures and his interest in Muybridge's photographs of sequential movement. According to Charles Millard: "Although the horses offered [Degas] the advantage of extenuating the relationship of the piece of sculpture to its base, they were ultimately less satisfactory than dancing figures as a means of developing the rising motion by which a figure seems to lift off its base that so interested him (op. cit., p. 102). John Rewald has noted: "It was out of his passionate search for movement that all the statuettes of dancers doing arabesques, bowing, rubbing their knees, putting their stockings on, etc., and of women arranging their hair, stretching, rubbing their neck and so on were created. All of these women are caught in poses that represent one single instant, in an arrested movement which is pregnant with the movement just completed and the one about to follow. To use Baudelaire's words, Degas 'loved the human body as a material harmony, as a beautiful architecture with the addition of movement'" (op. cit., 1990, p. 23).

Arabesque sur la jambe droite, le bras gauche dans la ligne shows Degas working in a largely classical manner, employing refined, smooth modeling to the surface and rendering the figure with proportional exactitude. Degas is reported to have said that in choosing the dancer as subject he "purely and simply followed the Greek tradition, almost all antique statues representing movements and equilibrium of rhythmic dances" (H. Hertz, Degas, Paris, 1920, p. 37).

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