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Degas's Little Dancer - National Gallery of Art Washington

Degas's Little Dancer

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1878–1881), 

>> Edgar Degas's * 1834 Paris † 1917 Paris

groundbreaking statuette of a young ballerina that caused a sensation at the 1881 impressionist exhibition, takes center stage in an exploration of Degas’s fascination with ballet and his experimental, modern approach to his work. This exhibition (05.10.2014 - 11.01.2015) is presented in conjunction with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ world-premiere musical Little Dancer.

Degas was a keen observer and wry but sympathetic chronicler of the daily life of dancers, depicting their world off-stage, at rehearsal or in the wings. Degas’s Little Dancer showcases this world of gaslight and struggle, as captured by the master.

One of the Gallery’s most popular works of art, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen will be presented with 14 additional works from the Gallery’s collection, including the monumental pastel Ballet Scene (c. 1907), monotypes and smaller original statuettes by Degas that are related to Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. The exhibition also includes the oil painting The Dance Class  from the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The National Gallery of Art has the largest and most important collection of Degas’s surviving original wax sculptures in the world. Its wax version of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is the only one formed by the artist’s own hands and the only sculpture he ever showed publicly. Degas did not carve sculpture but used an additive process. Little Dancer Aged Fourteen was modeled in wax over a metal armature, bulked with organic materials including wood, rope, and even old paintbrushes in the arms. Degas elevated the sculpture’s realism by affixing a wig of human hair and giving his ballerina a cotton-and-silk tutu, a cotton faille bodice, and linen slippers. (Text: National Gallery of Art Washington)