Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
Bronze, number 2/A
10 7/8 x 16 5/8 x 8 in. (27.6 x 42.2 x 20.3 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.398)
Degas, whose sculpture subjects are few, deliberately limited himself to ones within which he could explore the problems that particularly interested him. The human figures are often repetitious of the same model, each displaying subtle variations in composition or in the dynamics of movement or tension within the figure. The dancers of the Paris Opéra, disciplined to achieve and to maintain the difficult and often entirely unnatural movements of ballet, were ideal for Degas' purpose, one that required just such holding of complicated poses, allowing him to work from a living model. The bronze was formerly known as Arabesque Crossed Over the Right Leg, Right Hand Near the Ground, Left Arm Outstretched.