This week I have been learning about Edgar Degas. He is one of my all time favourite artists! This review is on one of the last sculptures he ever did, The Little Dancer. I am, once again, writing this as if I am there in 1881 when this sculpture was shown.
The Little Dancer, another sculpture by Edgar Degas, was on display today in Paris at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition. This Sculpture, a step towards a more modern style of art, is a truly amazing piece of work, especially as Degas was practically blind through its creation. The Little Dancer is sculpted in wax, which surprised many of you as wax is not a commonly used material. In this review I am going to talk about the style in which this was sculpted and the materials used.
The materials used
As mentioned previously, Degas sculpted this in wax. He then dressed it in a bodice; a silk tutu; a real hair wig; a hair ribbon and proper point shoes. The whole sculpture is coated in wax excepting the hair ribbon and the tutu. As wax is not a commonly used material, this sculpture is of a new kind, and it is well worth seeing!
The style of sculpting
Degas is known for his drawing, sketching and sculpting of bodies, particularly those of females. This sculpture is no different. From the shape of the legs to the facial features Degas has captured the youth and adolescent look of this fourteen year old girl. The position held by the model allowed Degas to sculpt a two third life sized image. However, to me, the position almost looks forced and strained. This really touches me as this shows a unprecedented realism of the strain of ballet training on a barely adolescent girl.
My Final Thoughts
I really like this sculpture and think that it is worth seeing! A few other critics have put Degas down saying, and I quote, that the sculpture was “a flower of precocious depravity”, or that the face was “marked by the hateful promise of every vice.” This is simply not true! This is a realistic portrayal of the hard work and the burden of training on the young ballet dancers of today.