An icon of modern art, presented in an authorised reduced-scale model, was poised to seduce bidders.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917), La Petite Danseuse de quatorze ans (The Fourteen-Year-Old Little Dancer), bronze with a brown patina, stamp of the Guastini foundry, letter D, h. 69.5 cm.
When Edgar Degas (1834-1917) exhibited this painted wax figure at the 1881 Salon des Indépendants, did he have the slightest inkling that it would become the face of late 19th-century sculpture? Here he gave form and volume to his passion for the world of ballet. It was not a success. The critics were nearly unanimous. One wrote that in her face "every vice imprints its loathsome allure, a mark of a particularly immoral nature". Degas kept it hidden away for over 30 years, even after he became famous, and it was not discovered until his death (it is now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington). Yet it entered the history of modern art through the front door. The original is at the Orsay Museum. It is so popular that the Degas Committee decided to contractually authorize reproducing it in 38 reduced scale, individually stamped bronzes: 26 marked with the letters of the alphabet, nine with I/IX to IX/IX, one marked “HEIR” intended for the Committee and two copies not for sale (HC 1/2 and HC 2/2). This model bears the letter D. It sold for €95,250.