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Degas' Sculpture The Little Dancer and Impressionist Paintings of Ballet

Updated on June 7, 2017
Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda is a keen Artist and Art Historian with a particular interest in 19th century art, particularly the work of the Pre-Raphaelites

The Little Dancer by Edgar Degas, Musee D'Orsay, Paris. Photograph by Bruin, coutesy of Flickr and Wiki Commons
The Little Dancer by Edgar Degas, Musee D'Orsay, Paris. Photograph by Bruin, coutesy of Flickr and Wiki Commons

Degas' Sculpture of 'The Little Dancer'

It is June 2009, and I'm standing in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris with my 14 year old daughter, gazing at a statue of another 14 year old, a little dancer cast in bronze but wearing a tutu of antique tulle, with a faded pink ribbon in her hair. My girl is instantly in love with the slight, boyish figure before her. In a flash, her camera is out, and she is feverishly snapping from all angles.

"She's so beautiful, Mum. Look at her skirt - it's real fabric, and her ribbon. And, oh, she looks so sad. Do you think she was uncomfortable standing like that for so long? Mum, can we get a postcard of her?" I nod. Yes, of course. We can get a postcard, and a fridge magnet, and a tee-shirt too if you want. And yes, she does look sad. Ballet dancers must work very hard, and I believe this little dancer had a harder time than most.

I nod. Yes, of course. We can get a postcard, and a fridge magnet, and a tee-shirt too if you want. And yes, she does look sad. Ballet dancers must work very hard, and I believe this little dancer had a harder time than most.

We move on to the paintings and later we sit in a cafe looking at our photographs and postcards, and the book, in French, about the little dancer.

Marie was a ballet student at the Paris Opéra, where Degas often drew and painted. Degas's first sculpture of her was in a reddish brown wax. The figure was nude to begin with, but he soon dressed her in clothing made of real fabrics - cream-coloured silk for the bodice, tulle and gauze for the tutu, and silk slippers. He finished his waxwork with real hair tied with a ribbon, and when it was first exhibited, contemporaries were taken aback by the unexpected realism of the piece. They were moved by this vivid portrayal of the pain and stress of ballet training as endured by such a young girl. For forty years, the wax original stood in Degas' studio. Then, after Degas' death, his heirs decided to make bronze casts of it. In these later versions, the models are completely bronze apart from the dancer's gauze tutu and silk ribbon. Less than thirty copies were made, and examples of them can now be seen in some of the world's most prestigious museums.

In February 2009, just a few months before our visit to Paris, the UK art collector and philanthropist John Madejski sold one of the bronzes of 'The Little Dancer' at auction. The bids at Sothebys Auction House ran up to an astonishing £13.3 million before the hammer finally came down.

And the little dancer herself? Well her story did not end quite so happily. Poverty prevented Marie from finishing her training, and it has been suggested that she eventually drifted into a life of petty crime and prostitution. It is sad to think that her image is one of the most coveted and valued in the history of art and yet she herself was destined for a life of hardship and degradation.

Ballet Dancers on the Stage by Edgar Degas, 1883

Ballet Dancers on the Stage by Edgar Degas, 1883. This picture is in the Dallas Museum of Arts. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Ballet Dancers on the Stage by Edgar Degas, 1883. This picture is in the Dallas Museum of Arts. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Ballet Dancers on the Stage by Edgar Degas, 1883

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was one of a group of artists who have become known as the French Impressionists, though he prefered to describe himself as a realist. Although he associated himself closely with the Impressionists, both in his social life, and as an exhibitor, he eschewed their practice of painting 'en plein air', and would often use photographic reference material for his work. The influence of photography can clearly be seen in his many paintings and pastel drawings of ballet dancers at the Paris Opera, and this picture, with it's unusual cropped composition, is a good example. Note the strong diagonal made by the dancers, and the feeling that you are viewing them from a box at the wings of the stage. The footlights illuminate their legs and tutus, yet there is shadow above and behind.

Dancers in Pink, by Edgar Degas, 1884

Dancers in Pink between scenes, 1884 by Edgar Degas. This painting hangs in the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Dancers in Pink between scenes, 1884 by Edgar Degas. This painting hangs in the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Dancers in Pink by Edgar Degas- a splash of glorious colour

The dancers in this gorgeous oil painting are resting between scenes. They are in full costume, and their rose-pink outfits are a delight. Degas' loose and Impressionistic style perfectly suggests the suppressed excitement and air of anticipation. Once again, the unusual cropping of the picture space hints at the influence of photography.

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas, 1875

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas, 1875. This Oil on Canvas hangs in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Dance Class by Edgar Degas, 1875. This Oil on Canvas hangs in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas, 1875

Strong diagonals in the composition lead the eye to the grey haired dance instructor leaning on his stick as he addresses his students. The dance studio is large and airy, but the girls already appear warm from their exertions and the dancer in the foreground with her back to us, is fanning herself, whilst her seated neighbour is stretching her head back in a pose very reminiscent of Degas's famous sculpture of the little dancer.. There's also a tiny dog peaking around a dancers legs in the foreground. I wonder if Degas put him there for amusement, or whether he belonged to a dancer?

The Dancer by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1874

The Dancer by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1874, oil on canvas, hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Dancer by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1874, oil on canvas, hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Renoir's Dancer, 1874

Renoir (1841-1919) and Degas were contemporaries on the French art scene in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and their work was often exhibited side by side, so it is no wonder that they would frequently choose similar subject matter. Renoir's painting of a dancer, completed in 1874 is more posed and serene than Degas' dancers. Her tulle skirt contrasts only slightly with the subtle colours of the background, and only the black choker and the bangle on her left wrist detract from the harmony of the composition.

The Dressing Room by Willard Leroy Metcalf, 1885

Image cortesy of Wiki Commons
Image cortesy of Wiki Commons

An American Impressionist

Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925) was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. A precocious talent, he was fortunate enough to receive one of the first ever scholarships from Boston’s Museum of Fine Art., His restless nature, and love of travel later led him to accept a magazine commission to illustrate articles on the Southwest American Indian Zuni tribe, and he is well-known for the portraits and sketches he completed on a further expedition led by anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing.

In 1883, Metcalf's restless spirit took him to France where he studied painting at Paris’ Académie Julian. He formed a friendship with the French Impressionist Claude Monet and for a while acted as a tutor to Monet's children. The influence of the Impressionists is very evident in this delicious painting of Dancers in their dressing room, which was completed in 1885, and is currently in a private collection.

Before the Ballet, 1896

Pierre Carrier-Belleuse (1851-1932) was the son of the famous 19th-century sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. He studied under Cabanel and Galland at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1875. An impressive, prolific and versatile artist, his works are frequently reproduced and often appear at auction. This delicate image of a ballerina fastening her shoe is one of many paintings of dancers by Carrier-Belleuse.

Before the Ballet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1896

Before the Ballet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1896. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Before the Ballet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1896. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

The Ballet Lesson by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1914

Some of Degas's ballet paintings and pastel drawings with a musical accompaniment

The Ballet Lesson by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1914

This painting by French artist Carrier-Belleuse was completed some 18 years later than the one above it, and I think this shows. The earlier painting is more Impressionistic, whilst this one is very chocolate boxy and reflects a change in artistic taste. My feeling is that M. Carrier-Belleuse was able to adapt to the times, even as a mature artist his work was still evolving.

Talent destroyed by war

Auguste Macke (1887-1914) was a German artist, the son of a building contractor. He was born in Meschede, Germany at the tail end of the 19th century, and travel to France and other European countries allowed his burgeoning talents to be exposed to influences as varied as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Fauvism. This resulted in a body of work that was often experimental, but always a delight. Sadly this young, promising talent was snuffed out in the very early stages of World War One, when Macke was killed at the front in Champagne.

This painting of the Russian Ballet was completed two years before his death, and it has real freshness and exuberance.

The Little Dancer by Edgar Degas on display at Joslyn Art Museum, Nebraska

The Russian Ballet by Auguste Macke, 1912

The Russian Ballet by Auguste Macke, 1912. Image courtesy Wiki Commons
The Russian Ballet by Auguste Macke, 1912. Image courtesy Wiki Commons

Sketch for the costume of Iskander, for the ballet, Le Peri, by Leon Bakst, 1911

Sketch for the costume of Iskander for the ballet, Le Peri by Leon Bakst, 1911. Image courtesy Wiki Commons
Sketch for the costume of Iskander for the ballet, Le Peri by Leon Bakst, 1911. Image courtesy Wiki Commons

The man with designs on ballet

Leon Bakst (1867-1927) achieved fame as a theatrical costume designer. He was a Russian artist, born in Belarus. Originally named Lev Rosenberg, he adopted his grandmother's sir-name as he began to gain prominence in artistic circles. As a close friend and associate of Sergei Diaghilev, he became increasingly involved with the Ballet Russes, and worked on both set and costume design, as well as providing striking illustrations for books and periodicals of the time. His highly decorative style was much admired, and he later also turned his hand to teaching. His most famous pupil was Marc Chagal.

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  • abrodech profile image

    Anya Brodech 6 months ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

    Very beautiful paintings!!

  • abrodech profile image

    Anya Brodech 3 years ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

    I'm a salsa and ballroom dancer but I find all of these paintings very beautiful, great collection of works you assembled!

    Sincerely,

    Anya Brodech

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 4 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Daffodil Sky. Degas was brilliant at capturing fleeting emotions, and he has the Little Dancer just right.

  • DaffodilSky profile image

    Helen Lush 4 years ago from Cardiff, Wales, UK

    This is a lovely article with great images. I remember seeing one of the copies of the Little Dancer many years ago when I was at art college and feeling touched by it's pathos. Voted up and interesting/beautiful.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

    Hi Claudia, thank you for choosing my hub as a link on your excellent article:

    https://hubpages.com/art/impressionismandimpressio...

    You certainly have some amazing paintings in Mexico.

  • Claudia Tello profile image

    Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

    I recently published the article "Impressionism: Mexican vs European Impressionist Art" and picked this Hub as a link for other related articles at the end of it. Thanks for sharing this with us and writing interesting worthwhile Hubs.

  • profile image

    Ballet Bags 6 years ago

    I have this statuette on my endtable in my room! My mom got it for me when I was little, and i still do ballet. it is so inspiring!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by Philip.

  • philipandrews188 profile image

    philipandrews188 6 years ago

    They are very good artworks. Nice hub!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Hi Fay, it's always great to meet a fellow art-lover! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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    Fay Paxton 6 years ago

    Amanda, where have you been all my Hub life? I LOVE art, which means you're destined to become my favorite.

    up/beautiful

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Hi will, I hope you get to see the little dancer in Pasadena. She really is a beauty! Enjoy your trip!

  • bbnix profile image

    bbnix 6 years ago from Southern California

    I just found out one of the little dancers is here at our Norton Simon museum, a couple hours away in Pasadena. I'm off to see it.

    I think I'll take a tissue...

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Hi Will, it's good to know that I'm not the only one moved to tears by great art! Your sculpture sounds intriguing, and I look forward to reading the hub.

  • bbnix profile image

    bbnix 6 years ago from Southern California

    A wonderful article Amanda.

    In our corner of the states, here in San Diego, we only get a tiny taste of culture. I'm so envious. I very much hope to someday to travel and see some of the tremendous artistry you've so beautifully described.

    Currently, I'm sculpting in wax a dancer figure of my own of which I'll write about soon. I don't know if I will ever be like Degas, but I do love it so. It drives me to tears to see such beautiful work.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Will

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Hi Hindisongs,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • hindisongs profile image

    hindisongs 6 years ago

    Nice and compact…..meaningful too

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Indianapolis Ballet, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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    Indianapolis Ballet 7 years ago

    Wow. I have to comment on the beautiful images just like everyone else. Very Impressive. The info was great but I kept getting drawn to those images!

    Thanks so much.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Rhia, thank you for taking the time to comment. I hadn't realised that the dance master might have been famous in his own right, but that's a really interesting detail.

  • profile image

    Rhia 7 years ago

    Hi there,

    This is a lovely article. Thank you!

    And in the painting "The Dance Class", the teacher there was actually a real teacher at the Paris Opera: Jules Perrot. He choreographed and taught ballet at the Opera. My favorite piece of his is Giselle. :)

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi epigramman, I love the new profile pic! Renoir and Degas are definitely two of the best. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your new profile pic. A very good choice.

    Hi Tamis Place, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

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    Tamis Place 7 years ago

    Love the Art work!

  • epigramman profile image

    epigramman 7 years ago

    ...hello I am back - take a look at my profile photo - lol - a painting by Renoir - also when God gave us art He gave us Degas - and of course your hubs!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi yenajeon, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • yenajeon profile image

    yenajeon 7 years ago from California

    As a former dancer, I of course am in love with Degas and your hub! I enjoyed the beautiful images, Thanks!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi windowjsas, this is one of my most popular hubs, so I guess a lot of people must appreciate dance inspired art. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • windowjsas profile image

    windowjsas 7 years ago from New York

    your insight and knowledge about this is fascinating. as a dancer i find it so interesting and wonderful that others share in interest of dance inspired artwork.

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    amanda severn 7 years ago

    "The Dancer". One of my most favourite paintings by Renoir

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi altemoebel, "the dancer" is a stunning painting, as are many of Renoir's works. I particularly enjoy his portraits, though I'd be pushed to pick out a favourite. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • altemoebel profile image

    altemoebel 7 years ago

    "The Dancer". One of my most favourite paintings by Renoir

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi epigramman

    Thank you for the compliments! Unfortunately I don't know anywhere near as much about ballet as you, but I love the work of Degas, and I really think he captures the mood of the dancers beautifully.

  • epigramman profile image

    epigramman 7 years ago

    I simply adore the ballet and your hubs are world class - particularly this one - it's so well done I want to live here!

    I live in Canada and we have the National Ballet of Canada but I have seen all the great dancers and companies of our generation. I love Degas - he personified the art of ballet and behind the scenes - You are my hero!!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Blackhatworld, thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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    blackhatworld 7 years ago from Belize

    nice paintings and pictures that you used there. and got loads of info. thank you.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Trohnjem, yes it is fantastic to see the Little Dancer in the flesh, so to speak! If you ever get the chance to visit Paris, I can highly recommend the Musee D'Orsay. It's definitely my favourite museum out of any that I've seen.

  • Trohnjem profile image

    Trohnjem 7 years ago from Oregon

    it must have been really awesome to see it. I've always been fascinated by the artistry of ballerinas and this really peeked my interest. Thanks for the hub!

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    sreeiit 7 years ago

    Good Information

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Cheeky Girl, thanks for stopping by. Degas was indeed a fabulous artist, and his pastels are even more gorgeous face to face.

  • Cheeky Girl profile image

    Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    Loved this hub. Great art by Degas. His pastel work is sublime. He captures the figure so well. Your hub gets my vote!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Writer Rider, Degas' ballet dancers are hard to beat, but I do agree about capturing movement without a modern camera. I've tried it myself!

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    Writer Rider 7 years ago

    Actually, just saw the videos. Great stuff.

  • profile image

    Writer Rider 7 years ago

    You know, love the pictures, especially The Dance Class, but I'd also like to see the ballerinas en pointe (on their toes) or in movement. Not sure if Degas did those types but they'd be cool. Must be hard, though, capturing movement on a painting if you can't use a camera to capture it first.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting cre8td2cr8.

  • cre8td2cr8 profile image

    cre8td2cr8 7 years ago from uk

    Great Hub, very interesting

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi RosWebbArt, thanks for visiting and commenting. Degas is a great favourite of mine.

  • RosWebbART profile image

    Ros Webb 7 years ago from Ireland

    Degas painted the ballerina perfectly. Thank you for this insight into his work.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting DocRehab

  • docrehab profile image

    docrehab 7 years ago from MIAMI, FL

    Very nice post!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Sohelia, Thank you for your kind comments, and I'm glad you enjoyed the art hubs. It's always good to meet a fellow art-lover.

  • Simply Soheila profile image

    Simply Soheila 7 years ago

    Thank you so much for this lovely and touching hub. I enjoyed the story, all the paintings and the history explained here.

    I'm new to the Hubpages and have only read two of your hubs so far, but I enjoy the thoroughness and accuracy with which you present information. You put a lot of effort into your hubs and it shows. They are, truly, worth reading.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi vgalloway-chapa,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. It was a lot of fun to put together.

  • vgalloway-chapa profile image

    vgalloway-chapa 7 years ago

    I am a new Hubber and I just read this Hub. I choked up. It reached me on several levels...as an artist, as a former dancer, as someone who has overcome poverty and as a mother of daughters who dance. Thank you! It's lovely.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Writer Rider, glad you enjoyed the pictures, and good to see you here, as always!

  • profile image

    Writer Rider 7 years ago

    Beautiful pictures! I love ballet so that's nice to see.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Lyn, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I very much enjoy your work too!

  • profile image

    Lyn Ferrand 8 years ago

    Hi! This is a wonderful blog! Really enjoyed reading it and loved the illustrations. I am new to all this, so it helped a lot to see your work. thanks!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ann.

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    Ann 8 years ago

    Great blog, I love the statue of the little Dancer its one of my favourites! :)

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Cris. I'd never heard that about her leg before. I'll have to take a closer look next time I'm in the Musee d'Orsay. Degas is my favourite of the Impressionists, which is ironic since he was really a much more traditional studio artist in many ways. I've read that he was quite a difficult person to get on with, and even Renoir, who was famously amiable, eventually abandoned him.

  • Cris A profile image

    Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

    Amanda

    This was a virtual feast for the eyes and the mind. I love Degas, specially his series on the "blue" dancers. And I remember too watching a BBC special on the ballet dancer where it was implied that she did become a prostitute and that her mother and extreme poverty played a major role in her becoming one. And that the sculpture was heavily critised back then because of Marie's lack of "prettyness" and that her right leg is not proportioned to her other leg (it is longer).

    Ah memories of the time I was all over art..so I thank for this great hub :D

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    hi Catherine, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

  • Catherine R profile image

    Catherine R 8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

    Wonderful hub. I have seen pictures of the little dancer but never known anything about her. This was a lovely informative read. Thank you.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hello Elena,

    Lovely to see you here as always. Yes. poor Marie, immortalised in bronze, but destined for a sad life in the flesh. I suspect that's probably true of many of the models for famous works of art.

  • Elena. profile image

    Elena. 8 years ago from Madrid

    Hello, Amanda! I didn't know this sculpture, much less the story behind it. Poor Marie, such a hit in wax and bronze, and such a misery in human flesh.

    The paintings are delicious as always, very pretty article.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Paraglider- the Musee d'Orsay is indeed the perfect space for an art gallery, and it's a fabulous building in it's own right. In fact it's hard to believe that so much trouble was taken for a railway station.

  • Paraglider profile image

    Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

    Hi Amanda - the Musee d'Orsay is my favourite art gallery. Somehow the space itself is exactly right for the exhibited works. I enjoyed your choice of familiar and unfamiliar art in this one.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Jess, the Impressionists were fond of their red-heads! The lady you mention kind of reminds me of the dancers in Toulouse-Lautrecs posters too. Perhaps she was a favourite model for these gents.

  • Jess Killmenow profile image

    Jess Killmenow 8 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

    As in "A Chorus Line", the Broadway musical, '...everyone is beautiful at the ballet..." One of the The Little Dancer sculptures is on display at our local Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The painting, Ballet Dancers on the Stage reminded me of Renoir because of the redhead. Perhaps there was a love triangle? Loved this hub. Thank you

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi aaronswriting, I agree that seeing the ballet in person bears no comparison to looking at a picture of it. Still, art is my own particular passion, and it's wonderful that one art form can at least express some essence of the other.

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    aaronswriting 8 years ago

    as beautiful as these pieces are, and the work that the artists put into creating them, the dancers themselves put themselves through excruciating pain to look that beautiful, if justice truly wants to be done, one should seat themselves at the ballet.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Marisa, you're right about dancing being a not-so-nice occupation in those days. The little dancer posed nude for Degas, and of course that would be considered quite shocking now, but dancers had a certain reputation back then, and as many needed to supplement their income whilst training, modelling was one way of doing it, and of course being 'nice' to the opera patrons was another.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi RNMSN, I didn't know that you were an artist too! You're full of surprises! The little dancer must have got so stiff holding that pose for Degas, although I suppose at 14 she would still have been very supple. She does look as though she's suffering.

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    Marisa Wright 8 years ago from Sydney

    Some lovely pictures. The sad story of the little dancer doesn't surprise me - ballet was a less than savoury occupation in those days!

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    Barbara Bethard 8 years ago from Tucson, Az

    oh Amanda this is fanastic!!the little dancer is one of my favorites...cannot tell you how many times I have copied her :) yes I admit it...I copy...but degas is not easy to capture...I often felt that the little dacer was sad because the ballet instructor was letting her have it! her poor fingers laced so tight, the face turned up, the second position stance...shes alive/I have aways wanted to hug or pat her, tell her

    "it's a now-now"

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Brian, that's certainly often the case in the arts. Sometimes it seems that people have to die before they get true recognition. It's not much of a prospect for an artist! LOL!

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    Brian Stephens 8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

    The little dancer story is quite special, seems so many talented people end their lives in poverty only to be discovered after they are gone in one way or another, perhaps on this occasion she was the subject but still very sad.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Shalini, you have excellent taste, but then I never doubted that anyway!

  • Shalini Kagal profile image

    Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

    Hi Amanda - one of my favourite places too :)

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    We did see the book there - they had it in the museum shop. I offered to get it for my daughter, but she wanted the French book that she found which had other Degas pictures in it, and also this gives us a chance to practise a bit of French together as we try to translate it (LOL!). The other book is very sweet though, and definitely a good suggestion, as you say, for all those little dancers in our lives.

  • Storytellersrus profile image

    Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

    Lovely, Amanda! Did you know there is a book about The Little Dancer? I bought it for my daughter, who had a similar reaction when she first read the book and then was able to see the statue when visiting the Md'O with her big sister last year. You might add the book to your amazon list. It is a great gift for those little dancers in our lives. http://www.amazon.com/Degas-Little-Dancer-Laurence...

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Hello,Hello, CreativeOne and AdamsInspired,

    thank you all for stopping by and commenting. It's good to see you all here!

    Hi Shalini, the Little Dancer is in the Musee D'Orsay which is on the banks of the Seine in Paris. It is my most favourite art collection anywhere, and the Little Dancer is only one of the many treasures there. (Manet's Olympia, and le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe, numerous Van Goghs, Renoirs and Picassos - just fabulous paintings, and some great 3D work too.)

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    Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

    As always Amanda, your art hubs enthrall! Loved all the ones you featured there - but The Little Dancer is special - I don't know whether it's the Musée d'Orsay or just Paris. It's incredible - the pain that you see on her face!

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    adamsinspired 8 years ago

    This was an especially lovely hub!

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    benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

    Thank you for your artistic hub, and all the trimmings of gay Paris. creativeone59

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    Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

    There is definitely something special about that statue. Thank you for sharing. Great Hub

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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Thank you Island Voice. I'm glad you liked it!

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    Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

    Art and Ballet, ballet and art, two of my favorite subjects. This is one fabulous hub. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Bob, my girl absolutely is a peach. She must be to put up with me dragging her around all the art galleries! LOL!

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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Thanks Knell for your kind words. Art is such a pleasure to write about, and it's nice to see how different people tackle the same subject.

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    Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

    Hi Russ. Yes, it's a great work of art, and it certainly attracts a lot of attention. Whoever took the decision to cast in bronze from Degas's original wax figure was definitely on to something. There are further copies in some of the world's great museums including the Metropolitan, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Having said that, I'm more than happy to stick with the Musee D'Orsay to get my fix, as there so many other fantastic art works there.

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    diogenes 8 years ago from UK and Mexico

    Bitter-sweet story. Your littlun must be a peach.

    Regards, Bob

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    knell63 8 years ago from Umbria, Italy

    I always love your art hubs, you always put such interesting subjects and images together.

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    Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

    Really enjoyable, thank you. I loved the Little Dancer. It must have been an incredible experience to see it.