One of the great sculptures of the modern age, Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (Little Dancer Aged Fourteen), which depicts a defiant 14-year-old dancer, has sold at The Sotheby's London auction for £15.8m.
The bronze casting of Degas' original wax figure, which was created in 1922, sold at a record breaking sum for one of his sculptures.
When the sculpture was first exhibited, audiences were dazzled and shocked by the hyper-realism of Edgar Degas’s sculpture of a defiant 14-year-old girl ballet dancing.
When Degas first showed his wax figure of a young ballet dancer at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition of 1881 in Paris, writer Paul Mantz wrote in Le Temps: “Let us acknowledge right away that the result is nearly terrifying.”
More than a century later , Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans is still one of the most celebrated sculptures of the modern age.
Sotheby’s senior director, Philip Hook said “It is an incredibly important work. It is one of the three or four great sculptural images of the last two centuries. You’ve got Rodin’s The Kiss and Rodin’s The Thinker and this is up there with them in terms of importance and recognisability ... it is such a classic.”
He also said there was an enduring quality to the sculpture. “It is a wonderful pose. Not only is it balletic but also there is a lot of character in that girl, the way her head is back, she is slightly defiant.”
It took the French Impressionist Degas three years to complete and was the only sculpture he ever exhibited in his lifetime.