Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen by #EdgarDegas (1881)


There is nothing more poised yet precious like a “Little Ballerina, Aged Fourteen”. Degas created only 1 sculpture while he was alive and I loved it the moment I laid eyes on it. The tulle tutu and ribbon in her hair really do add an air of humanity. I’ve always admired ballerina’s for their poise, and while they are sometimes the epitome of femininity, they are also some of the strongest athletes there are. I enjoyed the quiet strength of the dancer who is holding her head high for eternity.

Degas depicted young ballet dancers–in performances, at rehearsals, or at moments of exhausted rest–in numerous paintings, drawings, pastels, and monotypes. In 1878, he added sculpture to his investigation of the theme. A young dancer named Marie van Goethem posed for what would be the only sculpture that Degas exhibited in his lifetime. Originally executed in wax and shown in 1881, the work daringly incorporated real elements such as the dancer’s tulle tutu and silk hair ribbon. The sculpture was cast in bronze around 1922, several years after Degas’s death. – Philadelphia Museum of Art

Degas painted many photos of young ballerinas at rehearsals and such. His paintings are said to be full of physiological messages especially related to solitude. As the eldest of 5, I wonder if this was his escape; maybe he was simply wondering or yearning to experience what it was like to have some peace & quiet. The French man had family ties in New Orleans, where I assume he found in incredible amount of liveliness. I supposed a ballerina is an incredibly appropriate study of solitude and an attempt towards self perfection as she has to pay attention of every single inch of her body and make sure it’s beautiful. Perhaps Degas executed his paintings as a sort of performance. While he is called in “impressionist” artist because impressionist depict the air around him, he did not like to paint the outdoors and actually ridiculed impressionists. But no matter how he fought it, his depictions of daily life has forced people to put him in that bucket.

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