Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
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Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Cheval se cabrant

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Cheval se cabrant
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658), numbered and stamped with the foundry mark 4/HER CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 12 in. (30.5 cm.)
Original wax model executed circa mid-late 1880s - 1890s; cast from 1920-1921 by the A.A. Hébrard foundry in an edition of twenty, numbered A to T, plus two casts reserved for the Degas heirs and the founder
The Hébrard family, Paris.
Donald B. Strauss.
Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Paris.
Acquired by the present owner in the 1960s.
Exh. cat., Exposition des sculptures de Degas, Galerie A.A. Hébrard, Paris, May - June 1921, no. 4 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. XIII, p. 20 (another cast illustrated pp. 48-51).
J. Rewald, Degas's Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. XIII (another cast illustrated pls. 15-19).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S44 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 10 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, no. XIII, pp. 68-69 (the wax version and another cast illustrated).
A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 44 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, Degas, 'The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, no. 402, vol. CXLII, August 1995, no. 4, p. 13 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 4, p. 129 (another cast illustrated).
S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, no. 10, p. 94 (another cast illustrated p. 95).
New York, Charles E. Slatkin Galleries, Renoir, Degas, a loan exhibition of drawings, pastels, sculpture, November - December 1958, no. 30.
Lausanne, Palais de Beaulieu, Chefs-d'oeuvre des collections suisses, de Manet à Picasso, May - October 1964, no. 13.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

'Evidently animals think and speak, particularly amongst themselves. Bartholomé noticed that our white assumed in the stable an air of vigorous roguishness towards your noble servant. At the exit he took on a vexed and imperious air. After the obelisk, the isolation and the sight of an enormous straight line calmed him' (E. Degas, letter to Ludovic Halévy, 30 September 1890, in J. Sutherland Boggs, Degas at the Races, exh. cat., Washington, 1998, p. 150).

Edgar Degas once remarked to the journalist François Thiébault-Sisson that in his desire 'to achieve exactitude so perfect in the representation of animals that a feeling of life is conveyed, one had to go into three dimensions' (Degas, quoted in R. Kendall, ed., Degas by Himself: Drawings, Prints, Paintings, Writings, London, 1987, p. 245). Conceived between 1888 and 1890, Cheval se cabrant (Rearing Horse) is a superb example of the artist's ability to express this 'feeling of life' in the format of three-dimensions. Indeed, the present work is widely considered to be one of the finest, most expressive, and formally sophisticated of Degas' surviving sculptural representations of the horse (see S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas: Sculpture, Washington, D.C., 2010, p. 92).

In this sensitively rendered bronze, Degas depicts the horse in a state of acute anxiety, its eyes bulging, its ears erect and its nostrils quivering. As the scholar Gary Tinterow has written, 'this horse's head is more finely rendered and more expressively satisfying than any other by Degas' (G. Tinterow, in J. Sutherland Boggs et. al., Degas, exh. cat. New York, 1998, p. 462). The vigour and expressivity of Cheval se cabrant imparts a narrative element to the work and divergent readings have been proposed to explain the horse's heightened agitation and its distinctive swaying stance where it almost appears to be shying away from some perceived threat. 'A gored picador's mount', 'a horse avoiding an adversary's bite' and 'an emblem of futile rebellion against civilisation' are some of these various and very different interpretations (see Glover Lindsay et. al., op. cit., p. 92).

As with his Cheval au gallop sur le pied droit, Eadweard Muybridge's photographs of rearing and balking horses may have suggested the dynamic pose of the present work. Between the 1870s and the 1890s, Degas also portrayed the rearing horse in his two-dimensional works but Cheval se cabrant is the only example of this subject in his sculptural oeuvre. The importance of this sculpture thus rests not only in its intensity and its perfect capturing of a specific moment of arrested movement, but in its very rarity.

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