One of Edgar Degas’ most famous works, Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (Little Dancer Aged Fourteen), is to be sold at Sotheby’s auction in London.
The iconic Degas ballet dancer sculpture has been estimated by experts at Sotheby’s to fetch £10 million – 15 million ($15 million – 23 million) on June 24.
The piece is one of few bronze casts in private hands with the majority housed in museums including Tate London and Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Helena Newman from Sotheby’s called it Edgar Degas’ “most important and iconic sculpture”.
She added: “The artist’s ambitious and highly innovative work marks the pinnacle of his achievements as a sculptor, and its forthcoming sale represents a rare opportunity to acquire an icon of Impressionist art.”
The original sculpture – modeled by a young Belgian ballet student named Marie van Goethem – is two-thirds life size and was originally sculpted in wax.
It is dressed in a real bodice, tutu and ballet slippers and has a wig of real hair.
Despite its reputation, the sculpture was not so well received when it first appeared.
The work was accused of representing the girl in a bestial manner; she was compared to a monkey who possessed a face “on which all the vices imprint their detestable promises, the mark of a particularly vicious character”.
However, critics had to acknowledge the work’s astonishing realism.
The 28 bronze repetitions that appear in museums and galleries around the world today were cast after Edgar Degas’ death in 1917.
Earlier this year, Alberto Giacometti’s Pointing Man also became the most valuable sculpture ever sold at auction, after going for $141.3 million.