Degas ; Little Dancer of Fourteen Years
La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans
The Little Fourteen–Year–Old Dancer (French: La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans) is a c. 1881 sculpture by Edgar Degas of a young student of the Paris Opera Ballet dance school named Marie van Goethem.
The sculpture is two-thirds life size and was originally sculpted in wax, an unusual choice of medium for the time. It is dressed in a real bodice, tutu and ballet slippers and has a wig of real hair. All but a hair ribbon and the tutu are covered in wax. The 28 bronze repetitions that appear in museums and galleries around the world today were cast after Degas's death. The tutus worn by the bronzes vary from museum to museum.
The exact relationship between Marie van Goethem and Edgar Degas is a matter of debate. It was common in 1880 for the "Petits Rats" of the Paris Opera to seek protectors from among the wealthy visitors at the back door of the opera.