Degas’ Little Dancer sells for record $60m

A sculpture by famed impressionist Edgar Degas fetched $US41.6 million ($A60.6 million) at an auction at Christie’s in New York, marking a record for any work by the French artist.

The sculpture, Petite danseuse de quatorze ans (The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen), was among the collection of Anne H Bass that went under the hammer during the auction house’s 20th-21st century art sales series at Rockefeller Center in New York.

Bass, who died in 2020, was a leading philanthropist and arts patron.

Composed of 12 artworks, the collection came from Bass’s impeccably designed New York City home.

The Degas bronze sculpture was one of the most outstanding of the dozen from the collector, cumulatively valued at about $US250 million.

The bronze figure with brown patina with a muslin skirt and satin hair ribbon on a wooden base is Degas’s largest and best-known sculpture and the only one he exhibited in his lifetime.

The two-thirds life-size depiction of a young ballet dancer caused a sensation when a wax version was first shown in 1881 at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition in Paris.

Degas dressed the figure with real-life accoutrements: a dancer’s cotton faille bodice, linen ballet slippers, a tarlatan tutu, and a wig of real hair, scooped into a braid and tied with a silk ribbon.

The original version was not cast in bronze until after the artist’s death when 29 casts were made, most of which reside in museums across the world.

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