Arabesque over Right Leg, Left Arm in Line (Primary Title)
Arabesque over the Right Leg, Left Arm in Line (Former Title)

Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917 (Artist)

yellow-brown wax, other materials
Overall: 13 9/16 × 17 1/2 × 7 in. (34.45 × 44.45 × 17.78 cm)

Degas’s wax models were not exhibited publicly during his lifetime. Nevertheless, they reflect the artist’s capacity for creative expression in a variety of media besides painting and drawing. A well-established studio technique used by sculptors, wax-modeling allowed artists to realize quick experiments in malleable material that would not harden. The possibility of making changes easily to these compositions meant they could perfect the illusion of volume and form. Degas used wax to capture his sitter’s postures with a high degree of exactitude before rendering them in his painted compositions. Over time, however, he determined that these models had the quality of finished works and not merely sketches, and he conserved each one in his personal collection.

A substantial number of Degas’s waxes were extant following his death in 1917. His heirs decided to have some of these cast in bronze. In 1955, Paul Mellon had the opportunity to acquire the totality of the known corpus of Degas’s waxes, which he later bequeathed to the National Gallery of Art and VMFA.

Signed in wax base at proper left side corner: "Degas"
On back of base, on tape: "41"
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.