Zhong Cheng 2024 Spring Auction「Modern And Contemporary Art」

  • Zhong Cheng 2020 Autumn Auction「Modern And Contemporary Art」
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    EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)

    Fourteen Year-Old Dancer


    Bronze, Muslin Skirt, Satin Hair Ribbon and Wooden Base
    Sculpture: 34 x 35.5 x 97 cm Stand: 55 x 55 x 6 cm

    Signed Degas in English

    Estimate TWD 6,000,000-9,000,000
    USD 203,000-304,500
    HKD 0-0

    Hammer Price TWD 0
    USD 0
    HKD 0




Exposition:The following work is in the process of verification by Comité Edgar Degas

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” --- Edgar Degas

Renowned for his ballerinas, Edgar Degas was born in 1834 into a wealthy Parisian banking family. As an artist he is intrigued by the working class. He painted many hardworking laundresses, race horses and race jockeys, and other observations of modern urban life. Even paintings of his dancers are rarely shown on performing, instead they are often depicted in rehearsal or backstage to emphasize their status as professionals doing a job. Degas studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was strongly influenced by Neoclassical and Romanticism painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. He later studied abroad in Italy and participated in the annual French Salon for six consecutive years since 1865, he also exhibited in group exhibitions with Impressionist painters like Monet and Renoir. Although Degas is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist, or a painter of romanticism. 

Degas’ bathing women and ballerinas are without any beautification, they are portrayed in the most natural state. Degas once said “These women of mine are decent simple human beings who have no other concern than that of their physical condition…it is as though one were watching through a keyhole.” He captures the moments when dancers are yawning, or simply adjusting their tutus and sashes. He also depicted the many well-dressed “gentleman” in top hats and fur-collard overcoats who were permitted to visit the dancers as long as they paid for subscription seats. If the ballet was the height of fantasy and aspiration, Degas looked at that world with realist’s eye. His paintings of the ballet are not meant to be elegant or graceful, instead it hints at a psychological narrative that is sometimes highly ambiguous. His off-center compositions, awkward cropping of the image, experiments with color and form, and mysterious narrative are all results of meticulous calculation. Degas explained “no art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing”

In his later yeas, Degas, who has always suffered from poor eyesight begin to work in wax and cast bronze. He continued to be fascinated by the study of movements and everyday life, thus he also created sculptures of race horse, dancers and bathers. Renoir regarded him as one of the most celebrated 19th century French Impressionist painter and sculptor. His artistic expression influenced many after him including Cubist and Surrealist artists. The Fourteen Years-Old Dancer remain his most iconic work, and the only sculpture that was shown during his lifetime. The original work was exhibited at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition in 1881. Degas’ heirs later authorized copies to be cast in bronze in order to preserve his life’s works. Only a handful of the bronze casts remain in private collections, the majority are housed in major international museum collections, including Tate, London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Museé d’Orsay, Paris. Like the original work, the wax statuette is innovatively dressed in real clothes. The model of the work was Marie van Goethem, a student dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet, and daughter of a laundress. Her working-class background was typical of ballerinas at the time. Degas understood the predicament of the little dancer. The Little Dancer is a very poignant, deeply felt work of art in which little girl of fourteen, in spite of the difficult position in which she is placed, both physically and psychologically, struggles for a measure of dignity; her head is held high, through her arms and hands are uncomfortably stretched behind her back. 

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