First Arabesque Penchée

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Founder: Cast by A.-A. Hébrard et Cie (Paris)

Date: modeled probably before 1890, cast 1920

Culture: French

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: 10-7/8 x 16-5/8 x 8 in. (27.6 x 42.2 x 20.3 cm.)

Classification: Sculpture-Bronze

Credit Line: H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929

Accession Number: 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.