Lot 15
  • 15

Edgar Degas

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Edgar Degas
  • Cheval se cabrant
  • inscribed Degas, stamped with the foundry mark A.A. Hébrard Cire Perdue and numbered 4/I
  • bronze
  • height: 31cm.
  • 12 1/4 in.


Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Zurich

William Cuendet, Zurich (acquired from the above on 9th February 1922)

Thence by descent to the present owner


Zurich, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition des sculptures de Degas, 1921, no. 44


John Rewald, Degas: Works in Sculpture, New York, 1944, no. XIII, illustrations of another cast pls. 48-51

John Rewald & Leonard von Matt, L'Œuvre sculpté de Degas, Paris, 1957, no. XIII, another cast illustrated pls. 15-19

Sara Campbell, 'Degas's Bronzes', in Apollo, London, August 1995, no. 4, another cast illustrated (with incorrect provenance)

Joseph S. Czestochowski & Anne Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Milan, 2002, no. 4, another cast illustrated pp. 128 & 129; the present cast listed p. 129 (with incorrect provenance)

Sara Campbell, Richard Kendall, Daphne Barbour & Shelley Sturman, Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, Nineteenth-Century Art, Volume II, Pasadena, 2009, no. 4, another cast illustrated; referenced p. 506 (with incorrect provenance)

Catalogue Note

Widely regarded as Degas' most expressive rendering of a horse, Cheval se cabrant is an exceptionally crisp cast of the original wax model created in the 1880s. While it is unclear whether Degas based his modeling of the horse on Eadweard Muybridge's innovative series of photographs of the galloping horse, we know that the sculptor was fascinated by this most expressive stance and rendered it in two versions: Cheval caracolant (no. 65) and this example, no. 4. The present cast, which can be traced back to 1921 - the year it was exhibited at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune - is among the earliest known casts from the edition.

Degas’ two engrossing passions, horseracing and ballet, provided him with a rich and exciting social life and the artistic inspiration for the greatest part of his œuvre. As a member of the prestigious Jockey Club, Degas was a habitué of the racecourses at Deauville and Longchamps, where he could study the beauty of thoroughbred horses at close quarters. Images of racing were a central part of his œuvre from the 1870 onward, and his pastels and paintings of the subject are among his most celebrated works (fig. 1). Where in his painted works, the primary subject is the spectacle of the event - brightly coloured jockeys' silks and tension before the race - his bronzes, such as Cheval se cabrant, are a celebration of the elegance and power of the horse's movement.

The present cast of Cheval se cabrant is marked with the foundry's inventory number 4 and with the series letter I. After the artist's death in 1917, his heirs authorized the A.A. Hébrard foundry to cast Degas' 73 original wax models into bronze multiples. Cheval se cabrant, being one of the most popular of the bronzes, was cast in a complete letter series from A-T along with two examples marked HER, one marked HER.D and one marked AP, the initials of the Hébrard founder. 

Another cast of Cheval se cabrant was sold from the collection of Mrs Walter Buhl Ford II at Sotheby's in New York in 1982, and was erroneously catalogued as letter series I rather than T. This error has carried over into subsequently published literature, leading to a conflation of the provenance of the two bronzes I and T. The present cast was acquired by William Cuendet, a pastor and avid collector of prints by Rembrandt and Dürer, from Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Zurich on 9th February 1922 and has remained in his family to the present day.