Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION 
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658), numbered and stamped with the foundry mark '54/C CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD' (on the top of the base)
bronze with varied tones of brown patina
Height: 17½ in. (44.5 cm.)
Original wax version executed circa 1890s - 1911; 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
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 14 January 1959.
Exh. cat., Exposition des sculptures de Degas, Galerie A.A. Hébrard, Paris, May - June 1921, no. 54 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, London, 1944, no. LXXI, p. 28 (the wax version illustrated pl. 134; another cast illustrated pl. 135).
J. Rewald, Degas's Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. LXXI (another cast illustrated pl. 83).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S.67 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 134 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas Works in Sculpture, San Francisco, 1990, no. LXXI, p. 176 (another cast illustrated pp. 176-177 & 200).
A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 67 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, 'Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, no. 402, vol. CXLII, August 1995, no. 46, p. 33 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 43, p. 205 (another cast illustrated).
S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, no. 53, pp. 302-306 (the wax version illustrated p. 303).
Lausanne, 1976, no. 27.
Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, on loan.
New York, Degas, 2000, no. 46.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche is one of a group of sculptures in which Edgar Degas explored the theme of the seated bather drying herself, a subject that had featured in a number of his pictures as well. Here, she is shown twisting herself around in the chair as she towels her left side, adding a spiralling dynamism to the composition. The body is captured in a fluid motion that is emphasised by the solidity of the chair on which she so delicately perches. Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche is one of a group of sculptures that Degas created showing seated bathers, a theme that had precedents in Renaissance painting, yet to which he added a new, fresh realism and vitality. In one of these, he showed the woman apparently perching upon a tree stump like a classical nymph, yet in the others used a chair to invoke a modern domestic interior. Degas himself discussed his new perspective on the female nude and the intimisme that runs through all his treatments of the subject: 'Hitherto the nude has always been represented in poses which presuppose an audience, but these women of mine are honest, simple folk, unconcerned by any other interests than those involved in their physical condition. Here is another; she is washing her feet. It is as if you looked through the keyhole' (Degas, quoted in R. Kendall, ed., Degas by Himself: Drawings, Prints, Paintings, Writings, London, 1987, p. 311). In the case of Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche, that sense of a stolen glimpse into the woman's private realm is palpable. This is a domestic counterpart to the images of ballerinas shown in the wings of the theatre or in rehearsal, captured between their formal routines, and therefore provides an intriguing sense of the reality that underlies art. Degas adds another twist by using models that he himself posed and directed, meaning that his depictions of this supposed reality were in fact attained through a process that itself relied upon artifice. Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche and its sister works are considered to date from the later, almost expressionistic period of Degas' sculpture, in part because of its variegated surface. It may have been begun in the 1890s and subsequently worked upon for years. The nature of Degas' sculptures, which, with the exception of the Petite danseuse de quatorze ans, were never publically exhibited during his lifetime, has resulted in a great deal of speculation over their dates. Few of his sculptures featured in contemporary accounts or correspondence, one of the notable exceptions being his earlier work Le tub, another exploration of the bathing woman, which he mentioned in the late 1880s. This has meant that there are few pointers to indicate a precise chronology of his works. This is complicated by the fact that Degas is believed to have revisited his sculptures again and again, often treating them as works in progress over the span of years; it is believed that this may have been the case with Femme assise s'essuyant le côté gauche, to which the artist may have returned on several occasions over more than a decade, revealing his continuing fascination with the composition.

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