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

Grande arabesque, troisième temps

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Grande arabesque, troisième temps
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658), numbered and stamped with the foundry mark '16/B CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 16 in. (40.6 cm.)
The original wax model executed circa mid 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; this version cast by 1921
Walter Halvorsen, New York, by 1921.
Mrs Cornelius J. Sullivan, New York.
Anonymous sale, Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, 6 December 1939, lot 72.
Lillian L. Poses, New York; her sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 1995, lot 64.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Exh. cat., Exposition des sculptures de Degas, Galerie A.A. Hébrard, Paris, May - June 1921, no. 16 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. XL, p. 24 (another cast illustrated p. 95).
L. Browse, Degas Dancers, London, 1949, no. 155 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, 'Degas's Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. XL (another cast illustrated pl. 2).
P. Cabanne, Edgar Degas, Paris, 1959, p. 61(another cast illustrated pl. IX).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera completa di degas, Milan, 1970, no. S8 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 91 (another cast illustrated).
R. Gordon & A. Forge, Degas, New York, 1988, p. 208 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, no. XL, p. 118-119 (the wax version illustrated; another cast illustrated p. 119).
A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 7 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, 'Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, no. 402, vol. CXLII, August 1995, no. 16, pp. 18-19 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 16, p. 153 (another cast illustrated).
S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, no. 32, pp. 209-212 (the wax version illustrated p. 210).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Exposition Degas, December 1922.
London, The Leicester Galleries (Ernest Brown & Phillips), Catalogue of an Exhibition of the Works in Sculpture of Edgar Degas, February - March 1923.
Rome, Casa Editrice d'Arte Enzo Pinci, Seconda Biennale Romana, Mostra Internazionale di Belle Arti, Sculture di Edgar Degas, 1834-1917, November 1933.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Exposition Degas, April - May 1924, no. 259.
New York, Ferargil Galleries, Sculptures of Edgar Degas, October - November 1925, no. 7.
New York, Jacques Seligmann & Co., Exhibition of Bronzes and Drawings by Degas, April - May 1935, no. 12.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

Of all his sculptural subjects, it was the arabesque that most often appears to have inspired Edgar Degas. This was a theme that featured in a succession of his sculptures from the 1870s onwards, meaning that it was in fact one of his earliest subjects in three dimensional works. As its name implies, Grande arabesque, troisième temps is one of a succession of sculptures of a Grande arabesque, each showing a variation of the position. In fact, it has been observed that strictly speaking, the arm and leg positions of the present composition make it the only true 'arabesque' of those works. However, the arabesque was clearly a notion that fascinated Degas. In Grande arabesque, troisième temps, he has used it as a springboard for an innovative investigation of balance and motion. The body appears to rest on a fulcrum provided by the one leg which is touching the ground, while the other leg is thrust into the air at an oblique angle; that angle is almost continued, on the other side, by the body of the dancer, which tilts towards the earth, pointing downwards, an act that is potently underscored by the arm that hangs out beyond the base of the sculpture. In technical and balletic terms, then, Grande arabesque, troisième temps shows an incredible amount of seemingly precarious equilibrium. The body pierces the air in various directions, creating an impression of agility conquering the weighty mass of the body, both int he bronze and in the original wax.

The fact that the dancer in this sculpture has her upper body seesawing towards the ground means that this sculpture shows her in a penche position. Indeed, this composition has sometimes been referred to as Première arabesque penche for this reason. According to the catalogue that accompanied the momentous retrospective of Degas' works held at the Grand Palais, Paris, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1988-89, while the arabesque itself featured in a number of works in both two and three dimensions over the decades of Degas' explorations of the ballet, Grande arabesque, troisième temps is the only composition that shows it penche (see J. Sutherland Boggs et al., Degas, exh. cat., New York, 1988, p. 586). Perhaps Degas was drawn to the delicate sense of balance and precariousness that this position specifically evokes when captured in three dimensions; this may then hint at the complexity of the relationship between the different media that he explored, indicating the extent to which Degas' plastic oeuvre remains autonomous from his drawings and paintings.

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