Degas Discovery Changes Everything

It’s always interesting when the art scene gets stirred up with discoveries, thanks to modern technology and scientific advances. The latest thrusts one of the world’s most famous sculptors, Edgar Degas, into the limelight with the discovery that his piece, “Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen,” and 73 others are far more valuable than pieces that are currently shown in museums and elsewhere.

Scholars are split over whether the plasters are genuine. If they are, they will represent the purest record of Degas’ sculptural powers in existence. Excitement centers on the claim that these plasters were made during Degas’ lifetime. They correspond to the 74 Degas wax sculptures found intact in his apartments after his death in 1917 and cast and recast since then.

The 74 sculptures are on display together for the first time in history at the Herakleidon Museum in Athens. The show runs until April 25, 2009. There is also a forthcoming book by Dr. Gregory Hedberg, director of European paintings and sculpture at Hirschl & Adler Galleries in New York City, about the discovery. Also at the gallery is one of Degas’ Little Dancers on display with the wax lifetime plaster.

One of these sculptures sold at Sotheby’s in London for 13 million euro (approximately $19 million) in February and scholars all agree that this discovery will command prices never seen before with Degas’ works. Currently, there are 46 sets in total cast from the original plaster found hidden at the Valsuani Foundry in Paris. There is also one currently available in Los Angeles valued at $12.5 million, which is quite a steal considering prices will sky rocket in the next year.