55.9 × 35 × 21 cm (22 × 13 3/4 × 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.