Dancer Ready to Dance with Her Right Foot Forward Artist: Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)


European Art

On view, 2nd floor, European Art

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.


Wax and mixed media


22 × 13 3/4 × 8 1/4 in. (55.9 × 35 × 21 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of the Estate of Paul Mellon, B.A. 1929, L.H.D.H. 1967

Accession Number



19th century


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 records is ongoing.

  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 239, 399, pl. 227
  • Jennifer Gross, ed., Edgar Degas: Defining the Modernist Edge, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2003), 7, 11, 54–56, no. 15, pl. 15, fig. 17
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works)


dancers women

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

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