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Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece

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This absorbing, heartfelt work uncovers the story of the real dancer  behind Degas’s now-iconic sculpture, and the struggles of late  nineteenth-century Parisian life. 
She is famous  throughout the world, but how many know her name? You can admire her  figure in Washington, Paris, London, New York, Dresden, or Copenhagen,  but where is her grave? We know only her age, fourteen, and the work  that she did—because it was already grueling work, at an age when  children today are sent to school. In the 1880s, she danced as a “little  rat” at the Paris Opera, and what is often a dream for young girls now  wasn’t a dream for her. She was fired after several years of intense  labor; the director had had enough of her repeated absences. She had  been working another job, even two, because the few pennies the Opera  paid weren’t enough to keep her and her family fed. She was a model,  posing for painters or sculptors—among them Edgar Degas.

Drawing  on a wealth of historical material as well as her own love of ballet  and personal experiences of loss, Camille Laurens presents a compelling,  compassionate portrait of Marie van Goethem and the world she inhabited  that shows the importance of those who have traditionally been  overlooked in the study of art.


  • Publisher:    Other Press; Illustrated edition (November 20, 2018) 
  • Language:    English 
  • Hardcover:    176 pages 
  • Item Weight:    13.6 ounces 
  • Dimensions:    5.78 x 0.72 x 8.52 inches