Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old (1881) by Edgar Degas

Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old - Edgar Degas - 1881

Artwork Information

TitleLittle Dancer Fourteen Years Old
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism

About Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old

The artwork “Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old” by Edgar Degas, created in 1881, is a celebrated sculpture that exemplifies the Impressionist movement. This genre of art is known for its vivid depiction of light and atmosphere, often showcasing moments of contemporary life with a focus on movement and perception. Although Impressionism is most closely associated with painting, Degas’ “Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old” extends the movement’s principles into three-dimensional form.

The sculpture portrays a young ballet dancer standing with a poised, relaxed posture, one foot slightly ahead of the other, suggesting she is in between dance moves. Her head is tilted up and to the side, evoking a sense of contemplation or introspection. The sculpture is notable for its lifelike qualities, which include not just the carefully modeled features and limbs, but also real garments—a bodice, ballet slippers, and a tulle skirt—as well as a wig and a ribbon tying her hair back. These elements of realism bridge the gap between the viewer and the artwork, bringing the figure to life in a manner that was innovative for its time.

Degas’ choice of subject, a young dancer, is consistent with his broader body of work, which frequently explored themes related to the world of dance. Through the sculpture, the artist captures the grace and discipline of the dancer, while also providing a commentary on the human condition and the nature of performance. The sculpture’s presence in the context of the Impressionist movement underscores Degas’ role in pushing the boundaries of sculpture as a medium, utilizing unconventional materials and techniques to capture the immediacy and essence of the moment.

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