When Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen was first exhibited at the 1881 Impressionist exhibition—modeled in wax, with a real tutu and real hair—reaction was mixed. The figure’s awkward limbs and inscrutable expression seemed at odds with the traditional image of the elegant ballerina. Some critics called the sculpture “hideously ugly,” while others applauded its realism. This bronze was cast from the wax original after Degas’s death.
Robert Sterling Clark (probably in the 1920s–1955); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.
modeled 1879–81, cast 1919–21
Bronze with gauze tutu and silk ribbon, on wooden base
Height: 39 in. (99 cm)
Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, probably in the 1920s