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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SCANDINAVIAN COLLECTION

Edgar Degas
POSITION DE QUATRIÈME DEVANT SUR LA JAMBE GAUCHE
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 450,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
177

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SCANDINAVIAN COLLECTION

Edgar Degas
POSITION DE QUATRIÈME DEVANT SUR LA JAMBE GAUCHE
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 450,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Edgar Degas
1834 - 1917
POSITION DE QUATRIÈME DEVANT SUR LA JAMBE GAUCHE
Stamped Degas and with the foundry mark Cire Perdue A.A. Hebrard and numbered 58/K
Bronze
Height: 23 1/4 in.
59 cm
Conceived circa 1885-90 and cast in bronze after 1919 in an edition of 20 numbered A to T, plus 2 casts reserved for the Degas heirs marked HER.D and HER by the A.A. Hébrard Foundry, Paris.
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Provenance

Falk Simon, Sweden (acquired by 1955)
Thence by descent

Literature

John Rewald, Degas: Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. XLIII, illustration of another cast p. 98
Leonard Von Matt & John Rewald, Degas: Sculpture, Zurich, 1956, no. XLIII, illustration of another cast pls. 32, 43 & 44
Franco Russoli & Fiorella Minervo, L’Opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S911, illustration of another cast p. 141
Charles W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976,  catalogued pp. 24 & 106, illustration of another cast pl. 89
Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters: The John C. Whitehead Collection, A
Collection in Progress (exhibition catalogue), Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York, 1987, illustration of another cast p. 49
John Rewald, Degas’ Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, no. XLIII, illustrations of the wax version p. 124 & of another cast p. 125
Anne Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 10, illustration of another cast p. 157
Sara Campbell, "Degas, The Sculptures: A Catalogue Raisonné," in Apollo, vol. CXLII, no. 402, August 1995, illustration of another cast p. 39
From Daumier to Matisse: Selections from the John C. Whitehead Collection (exhibition catalogue), Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York, 2002, illustration of another cast p. 6 
Joseph S. Czestochowski & Anne Pingeot, Degas Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 58, illustrations of another cast pp. 234 & 235
Susan Glover Lindsay, Daphne S. Barbour & Shelley G. Sturman, eds., Edgar Degas Sculpture, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2010, no. 28, illustrations of the wax version pp. 191-92 & of another cast pp. 190 & 193
Sara Campbell, Richard Kendall, Daphne S. Barbour & Shelley G. Sturman, Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, vol. II, Pasadena, 2009, no. 64, illustrations of another cast pp. 344-47

Catalogue Note

This auction marks the present work's first appearance on the open market. The sculpture was purchased shortly after its casting by Falk Simon, a Swedish banker and businessman who served on the board of a major Gothenburg-based transatlantic trading company and who amassed one of the greatest collections of silver objects in the early twentieth century. In 1934, Mr. Simon donated much of his silver collection to the Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, but this bronze has been treasured by the family for over 80 years. 

Of the forty Degas sculptures related to the dance which exist today, few better reflect his passionate search for movement and mass than those of the dancer in the fourth position; with her leg raised en l’air and arms perpendicular in a stark and dramatic pose built around right angles, the figure transmits a powerful sense of her next few steps. “It is the movement of things and people which amuses and even consoles me,” wrote Degas to his friend Henri Rouart. “If the leaves of trees did not move, how sad the trees would be, and we too” (quoted in John Rewald, op. cit., p. 23).

This key position is one practiced repeatedly in class exercises and while Degas must have seen it rehearsed often, his drawings only include studies of dancers in preparation for the pose, rather than holding it. The difficulty of capturing this supremely challenging and elegant moment of balance for the dancer without resorting to the illusions permitted by sketches was the very problem that had brought him to sculpture in the first place: "Truth is only obtained with the aid of sculpting, because it exercises a constraint on the artist which forces him not to neglect anything important” (quoted in "Degas portraitiste," in Le Temps, July 12, 1931, n.p.).

Degas notoriously made no concessions whatsoever to contemporary taste and had equal contempt for artistic conventions, to which the vigorously worked and highly expressive surfaces of the statuettes attest. The rough texture and the almost plastic quality of his molded forms is particularly true of this model, lending an impression of immediacy that makes these bronzes so fascinating.

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