- Overview and Highlights
- African Art
- American Decorative Arts
- American Paintings and Sculpture
- Ancient Art
- Art of the Ancient Americas
- Arts of Islam
- Asian Art
- Coins and Medals
- European Art
- Indo-Pacific Art
- Modern and Contemporary Art
- Prints and Drawings
- Search the Collection
- Join and Support
Artist: Edgar Degas, French, 1834–1917
Dancer in Third Position with Her Right Foot Forward
Wax and mixed media
55.9 x 35 x 21 cm (22 x 13 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.)
Gift of the Estate of Paul Mellon, B.A. 1929, L.H.D.H. 1967
This statuette was one of the 150 wax figures found in Degas’s studio upon his death in 1917. Modeled in beeswax strengthened with clay and everyday objects such as wire, broken paintbrushes, and wine corks, statuettes of ballerinas and horses could be endlessly modified and adjusted, enabling Degas to experiment with variations on different poses. This focus on the pose rather than on the individualization of the figures gives them a timeless quality. Half of the wax statuettes were later cast in bronze at the request of Degas’s heirs. The original waxes were long believed to have been lost during this process but were rediscovered in 1955. The preservation of such delicate works by Degas’s own hand is extraordinary.
Jennifer Gross, ed., Edgar Degas: Defining the Modernist Edge, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2003), 7, 11, 5456, no. 15, pl. 15, fig. 17.
Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 239, 399, pl. 227.
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.