Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen
Modeled 1878–81; cast after 1936
Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
On View

The original wax model of "The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer" was exhibited in the sixth Impressionist Exhibition of April 1881, presenting the Parisian public with an extraordinary new conception of sculpture. Degas dressed the wax figure in a silk bodice, gauze tutu, and fabric slippers, with a satin ribbon in her real hair wig. The wig, slippers, and bodice were covered with a layer of wax to help unite them with the rest of the work, while preserving their special texture. His model, Marie von Goethem, was a student of the Ballet de l'Opera and worked as an artist's model. Accustomed to representations that idealized human forms, the public had mixed reactions to the graphic portrayal of an adolescent dance student, dressed in real clothing. After the exhibition, Degas returned the "Little Dancer" to his apartment, where it remained until his death in 1917.


  • Artist Name: Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)
  • Title: Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen
  • Date: Modeled 1878–81; cast after 1936
  • Medium: Painted bronze with cotton and silk on a wooden base
  • Dimensions: 37-5/8 x 13-3/16 x 9-15/16 in. (95.6 x 33.5 x 25.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1977.02.70.S
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Adrien-Aurélien Hébrard, Paris, to his daughter;
Nelly Hébrard, Paris;
[Alex Reid & Lefevre, London, sold 17 January 1977 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Original Bronze Foundry Models of Degas Sculpture on loan from the Norton Simon, Inc. Foundation

  • Fogg Art Museum, 1977-01-15 to

The Complete Sculptures of Degas

  • London, Reid & Lefevre Gallery, 1976-11-18 to 1976-12-21

Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2017-11-09 to 2018-04-09
  • Campbell, Sara, Apollo, fig. 71 pp. 46-47
  • Failing, P., ArtNews, pp. 38-41
  • The Lefevre Gallery, The Complete Sculptures of Degas, 1976, no. 73 pp. cover, 2, 91
  • Sutton, Denys, Edgar Degas: Life and Work, 1986, no. 169 p. 186
  • Kendall, R., Degas and the Little Dancer, 1998, figs. 70, 76 pp. 100, 104
  • Campbell, Sara et al., Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, 2009, Fig. 47 p. 279
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1397 p. 402
  • Szakacs, Dennis, Richard Jackson: Ain't Painting a Pain, 2013, Fig. 19 p. 29
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in front Edgar Degas Modeled c. 1882-95; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, left arm in line Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21
Arabesque over the right leg, right hand near the ground, left arm outstretched (First arabesque penchée) Edgar Degas Modeled 1885-90; cast 1919-21

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