DEGAS, Edgar
(b. 1834, Paris, d. 1917, Paris)

Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer

1880 (model), 1922 (cast)
Bronze, partly tinted, cotton skirt and satin hair ribbon, height 105 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

As in his painting, Degas aimed to change the art of sculpture, turning to real life for inspiration and experimenting with new materials and techniques in order to gain his desired effect. The use of everyday materials was one of the most revolutionary aspects of his work. While the cast bronze figure wears a gauze skirt and satin hair ribbon, the original tinted-wax sculpture had a wax-covered linen bodice, satin slippers, red lips, and even a horsehair wig. The expression on the model's face is strained, emphasizing the difficulty of her artificial pose.

When the sculpture was first displayed in Paris at the Impressionist exhibition in 1881, the extreme realism of the Little Dancer repelled many viewers, who found the work brutal and coarse.