Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas
Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas
Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas

Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge by Edgar Degas

  • This highly expressive bronze sculpture was crafted by the great Impressionist Edgar Degas
  • The intimate work brings together the form of a classical fragment with a modern subject
  • The theme of the woman at her toilette was highly important to Degas throughout his career
  • Signed and stamped, this bronze is an extraordinary example of his unique style and perspective
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Item No. 30-9118
$99,250
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description
Edgar Degas
1834-1917 | French

Woman Rubbing Back with a Sponge, Torso

Signed, dated, numbered, and stamped with foundry mark “Degas / 1998 / CIRE C.VALSUANI PERDUE / 28|D”
Bronze

Highly expressive and full of texture, this exceptional bronze by the great Impressionist Edgar Degas is among the most unique of his sculptural output. The bronze is immediately striking due to its bold cropping. With its lack of limbs and head, the piece recalls the ancient fragments of sculpture from Greece and Rome that so enamored artists of the age. Degas himself was highly influenced by his classical predecessors, whom he encountered frequently throughout his career in the Louvre. Yet, here he takes this classical form and makes it highly modern by fusing it with the realities of everyday life and a woman's toilette.

The toilette is a theme that Degas turned to time and time again throughout his oeuvre. He captured women bathing in oil, pastel, pencil, chalk and wax. Here, his subject is shown sponging herself, bent slightly at the torso as she reaches for her back. His ingenious use of a classically-inspired form transforms this mundane task into something extraordinary, lending the work a sense of grace and poetry that sets it apart as one of his most singular sculptural forms.

The bronze is also distinguished by the fact that it is a Valsuani bronze, meaning it faithfully records the wax version of Degas’ pose as it appeared at the time of its creation. Most Degas' bronzes found on the market were cast by Hébrard – these serialized bronzes are surmoulages, or “aftercasts,” that were cast from the modèle bronzes currently in the Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena). Because these bronzes are second generation, they are smaller and far less detailed than the current bronze.

This example, however, was cast by Valsuani from a plaster that was taken directly from Degas’ waxes, according to scholarship by the art historian Dr. Gregory Hedberg. These plasters were created by Degas’ sculptor friend Albert Bartholomé shortly after Degas completed his wax figurines. Thus, they record the earliest versions of Degas’ wax sculptures, before they were damaged by time or handling, and before Degas himself altered the works. The Hébrard bronzes, on the other hand, actually represent Degas’ reworking of the original sculptures.

Because they are cast directly from the plaster, the Valsuani bronzes are also larger, crisper, and more highly defined than the Hébrard bronzes. Since the original plasters were discovered in the 1990s, similar Valsuani bronzes have been exhibited around the world, including at The Hermitage (St. Petersburg) and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Original wax model executed circa 1880-1890
Bronze cast 1998

19" high x 10" wide x 9" deep
specifications
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:France
Material:Bronze
Depth:9.0 Inches
Width:10.0 Inches
Height:19.0 Inches
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