Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Degas displayed the wax figure after which this bronze was cast at the sixth impressionist exhibition, in 1881. The only sculpture that he ever presented publicly, the work caused an uproar for its frank realism and use of materials. In depicting Marie van Goethem, one of the lower-class girls training at the Paris Opera Ballet, Degas fashioned the figure out of real materials, including a linen bodice, muslin tutu, satin dance slippers, a wig made of actual hair, and a ribbon to keep it in place. Her worn body, uneven skin, and wrinkled stockings challenged the idealizing tendencies typical of sculpture of the period. Such naturalism prompted the novelist and critic Joris-Karl Huysmans to exclaim, “M. Degas has overthrown the tradition of sculpture, as he has long since shaken the conventions of painting.” Following the artist’s death, the Hébrard foundry cast at least two dozen bronzes after the original, of which this is the third.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, French (Paris, France 1834 - 1917 Paris, France)
Marie Van Goethem
Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Petite danseuse de quatorze ans / La Grande Danseuse
Work Type
Level 2, Room 2700, European and American Art, 19th century, Impressionism and the Late Nineteenth Century
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Bronze with tulle skirt and satin hair ribbon
Cast, lost-wax process
99.1 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm (39 x 14 x 14 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • stamp: left thigh, stamped, relief: CIRE / PERDUE / AA HÉBRARD
  • foundry mark: left thigh, stamped, relief: C
Steven C. Clark. [Scott & Fowles, New York, NY], sold; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop, New York, NY, 1924, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
Publication History

Barbaranell Hymes, "Degas' Wit", The Christian Science Monitor (January 14, 1975), repr. [unpaginated?]

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 147, p. 130, repr.

Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, exh. cat., Abbeville Press/Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1985), no. 48, repr.

Sara Campbell, "A Catalogue of Degas' Bronzes", Apollo (New Series) (August 1995), vol. CXLII, no. 402, p. 47

Sara Campbell, "Une Danseuse et Trente Tutus", La Revue du Musée d'Orsay, Musée d'Orsay (Paris, France, Autumn 1998), 48/14, no. 7, p. 69; repr. in b/w p. 70, fig. 7

Harry Cooper, Sharon Hecker, Henry Lie, and Derek Pullen, Medardo Rosso: Second Impressions, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums and Yale University Press (Cambridge, MA and New Haven, CT, 2003), p. 35, fig. 23

Jon Garelick, "Abstract Thoughts: The Transitional and Transcendent Art of Edgar Degas at the Sackler Museum", The Boston Phoenix (August 5 2005), p. 18, p. 18

Casey N. Cep, "Curator Defends 'Fake' Degas", The Harvard Crimson (October 28 2005), p. B3, repr. p. B3

Kate Ledogar, "'Degas at Harvard,' at the Sackler", The Weekly Dig (October 26 2005), p. 50, p. 50, ill.

Christine Temin, "Degas Show at Harvard gives Insight into Cuno", Chicago Tribune (September 4 2005)

Keith Powers, "Degas Vu", Cambridge Chronicle (October 20 2005), p. 17, p. 17, repr.

Richard Kendall, "Degas", The Burlington Magazine (December 2005), CXLVII, pp. 847-848, p. 847

"Distinguished Collection of Degas Masterworks Opens", website, August 4 2005, repr.

Christopher Reed, "Mad for Degas", Harvard Magazine (July 2005 - August 2005), vol. 107, no. 6, pp. 40-45, p. 42, ill.

"MemberCard Best Bets", GBH: The Members' Guide (August 2005), repr.

Bob Jackman, "Shades of Degas", The Patriot Ledger (August 6 2005-August 7 2005), pp. 39-40, repr. p. 39

[Reproduction only], "This Week", The Boston Globe, (November 24 2005)., p. 13

Meredith Goldstein, "Viva el Degas", The Boston Globe (August 1 2005), Page 1 of "Sidekick" section, repr. p. 1

Marjorie B. Cohn and Jean Sutherland Boggs, Degas at Harvard, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums/Yale University Press (Cambridge MA / New Haven CT, 2005), pp. 39-40; repr. in color as fig. 23, p . 45; p. 89; no. 11, p. 100

Michael Conforti, James A. Ganz, and Neil Harris, The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute/Yale University Press (Williamstown, MA, 2006), p. 322

Exhibition History

Modern Art at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/1985 - 01/05/1986

Degas at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/2005 - 11/27/2005

Modern Art and Modernity, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 2700 Impressionism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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