Degas' little dancer carries a hefty £9m estimate set to fetch £9m at auction

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The Independent Online

The only sculpture by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas to be exhibited during his lifetime is expected to fetch up to £9m when it is auctioned at the end of the month.

The only sculpture by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas to be exhibited during his lifetime is expected to fetch up to £9m when it is auctioned at the end of the month.

The original wax version of the statue, Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, caused outrage when it was shown at the Louvre in 1881, wearing a real tutu and a wig. Philip Hook, of Sotheby's, where the statue will be auctioned on 27 June, said it "is so real and has a slight element of the macabre that some critics were absolutely horrified - it was very advanced at the time to combine a sculpture with a real tutu and ribbon".

A contemporary of Degas, Paul Mantz wrote: "The bourgeois admitted to contemplate this wax creature remain stupefied for a moment and one hears fathers cry, 'God forbid my daughter should become a dancer'."

After Degas' death in 1917, a series of 28 sculptures was cast in bronze, from the wax original, of which only 11 remain in private hands. One was sold in New York last year for US$12.3m (£8m), the record price for a Degas sculpture.

This bronze figure is being sold by a private collector who bought it in 1964, for considerably less than £100,000.

Meanwhile, later today a set of long-lost galley proofs from the work of Marcel Proust are expected to fetch nearly £1m when they are sold at Christie's. The proofs, from the 13-volume A La Recherche du Temps Perdu were so extensively reworked by the author that they constitute almost a complete rewriting of his celebrated meditation on the minutiae of life.

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