Arts & Entertainment

Degas’s ‘Little Dancer’ fetches a record $41.6 million at Christie’s

New York, US, May 12 (EFE).- A sculpture by famed impressionist Edgar Degas Thursday fetched $41.6 million at an auction at Christie’s in New York, marking a record for any work by the French artist so far.

The sculpture, “Petite danseuse de quatorze ans,” (The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, the title given by the artist) was among the collection of Anne h. Bass that went under the hammer during the auction house’s 20th/21st Century Art sales series at Rockefeller Center in New York.

Bass was a leading philanthropist and generous patron of the art, known for her expert eye and unparalleled connoisseurship.

Composed of 12 magnificent artworks, her collection came directly from the interior of Bass’s impeccably designed New York City home.

The Degas bronze sculpture was one of the most outstanding of the dozen from the collector, cumulatively valued at about $250 million.

The bronze figure with brown patina with a muslin skirt and satin hair ribbon on a wooden base is Degas’s largest and best-known sculpture — and the only one he exhibited in his lifetime.

The two-thirds life-size depiction of a young ballet dancer caused a sensation when a wax version was first shown in 1881 at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition in Paris.

Evoking a combination of compassion and intrigue, the sculpture encapsulates the tension between artifice and reality that defines so much of his work, Christie’s said.

It was originally made in wax, which the artist carefully colored to simulate real flesh.

Degas finally dressed the figure with real-life accouterments: a dancer’s cotton faille bodice, linen ballet slippers, a tarlatan tutu, and a wig of real hair, scooped into a braid and tied with a silk ribbon.

The original wax version was not cast in bronze until after the artist’s death when 29 casts were made, a majority of which now reside in museums across the world.

The proceeds from Bass’s collection generally exceeded the most optimistic expectations at the auction.

The most valued of Bass’s collection were the paintings “Le Parlement, Soleil couchant” by Claude Monet, which reached a price of $75.96 million, followed by Mark Rothko’s “Untitled (Shades of Red)” at $66.8 million.

Apart from the Degas sculpture, another work that Bass, who died in 2020, wore in his Fifth Avenue apartment made history this afternoon, “Stue (Interior with an Oval Mirror),” by Danish Vilhelm Hammershoi, which with $6.3 million, became the artist’s most expensive work. EFE


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