Dancer Looking at the Sole of her Right Foot (Primary Title)

Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917 (Artist)

ca. 1890s
brownish-black wax, other materials
Overall: 21 1/2 × 9 3/4 × 9 1/2 in. (54.61 × 24.77 × 24.13 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.
Signed in wax base at proper left side next to foot: "Degas"
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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