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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Conserving Degas

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Metropolitan Museum of Art / New York / Art

This five-minute video is a charming window into one of the world’s most famous sculptures, The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer by Edgar Degas. We know that the name of the model was Marie van Goethem, and that she was the middle of three sisters who were all employed at the Paris Opera Ballet, though only the youngest was able to make a long career there. The mysterious Marie has increasingly been a subject of scrutiny among feminists, and in 2014, a musical about her, Little Dancer, premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The history of this sculpture goes quite deep, and the subject of her fabric costume is interesting, too. In this video, conservator Glenn Petersen walks us through the decision to replace her aged tutu and to rethink it in terms of period correctness. The end result is quite something. —L.J.

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