Unique among museum retailers, The Met Store is able to offer our customers charming and authentic sculpture reproductions that enjoy a direct lineage to the work of Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). This is due in large part to the munificence of Louisine Havemeyer, one of The Met’s great 20th-century patrons, who in 1922 bought an entire series of small bronze figures that were cast from models made by Degas—and then in 1929 donated all but two of these bronzes to the Museum.
Degas created these small figures—dancers, bathers, racehorses—as a private means of exploring subjects that fascinated him while investigating and capturing movement in three dimensions. The collection of more than 150 models, originally formed by the artist’s own hands out of wax, clay, and plastiline, was found in Degas’s studio after his death on September 27, 1917.
Degas’s heirs authorized a posthumous series of bronze editions to be cast from 72 of these small figures, which was completed in Paris before May 1921. Of the first “A” edition, all but two are now in The Met thanks to Mrs. Havemeyer, augmenting one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Degas’s work. You can read more about these figures and their fascinating backstory on The Met website at the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
Currently, The Met Store is proud to offer seven of these remarkable figure studies as reproductions, all made from the numbered bronze castings. The Met Store’s “Dancer at Rest” sculpture, for example (above left), was cast straight from Dancer at Rest, Hands on Her Hips, Left Leg Forward, the 1920 bronze numbered 8/A in the series. Our “Horse Standing” (above right), just like the original, manifests the painstaking research and observation that Degas put into all of his models, whether human or equine.
On July 19 we celebrate the birthday of the great Edgar Degas—and every day we honor his enormous artistic contribution with our unique sculpture reproductions.