Marie van Goethem  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Marie Genevieve van Goethem (or Goetham; 7 June 1865 – ?) was a French ballerina of Belgian descent, and the model for Edgar Degas' statue "Little Dancer of Fourteen Years".

Marie and Degas

Marie, the daughter of a Belgian laundress and tailor, was born in the poor 9e arrondissement of Paris, one of three sisters. The mother and her daughters moved to a stone apartment building at 'Rue Notre-Dame de Lorette' called 'Place Breda' near Degas' studio at 'Rue Saint-Georges'. Marie and her sisters became students at the Paris Opera Ballet school and later performed in roles of extras with the company. The young dancers were called 'Petits Rats'.

Degas frequented the ballet performances at the Paris Opera House and used Marie as a model. By posing for artists Marie and her sisters probably earned up to 6 or 10 francs per sitting.

Sixth Impressionist Exhibition of 1881

When the La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans was shown in Paris at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition of 1881, it received mixed reviews. The majority of critics were shocked by the piece. They thought it was ugly, that it looked like a medical specimen, in part because Degas exhibited it inside a glass case. Some considered the head and face grotesque and primitive.

Subsequent life

Marie's dance career ended at the age of seventeen, a result of missing many dance classes. No record of Marie's subsequent life or death has been found.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Marie van Goethem" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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