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Degas sculptures found to be filled with wine corks

Scientists have discovered that three 19th century wax sculptures by French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas are padded out with wine corks.

As reported by, the discovery was made when the scientists fired X-ray beams at the three sculptures at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Degas apparently bent wire into his desired pose for his nude dancer sculptures then bulked them out using things he found in his studio, such as wine corks.

Degas self portrait painted in 1855 when the artist was 21

The findings confirm that both Degas’ sculpting methods and the materials he used were “highly unorthodox” and “unconventional” for the time.

The three sculptures in question, Degas’s only wax sculptures in the UK, are called Dancer Bowing, Dancer With A Tambourine and Arabesque Over Right Leg, Left Arm In Front.

The trio were made by the artist in the 1880s from beeswax over commercially produced shop-bought iron armatures that he fixed to offcuts of wood

Degas made the sculptures when he was in his 50s. He died 100 years ago on 27 September 1917.

The sculptures form part of a new exhibition – Degas: A Passion For Perfection – that celebrates the artist 100 years after his death, which opens at the Fitzwilliam Museum on 3 October.

AOL reports that other household items like paintbrushes and pencils have been found in Degas sculptures kept at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

“Degas produced these experimental wax sculptures with an apparent disregard for their longevity, being motivated primarily by his obsessive pursuit of perfection,” a spokesman for the Fitzwilliam Museum said.

Bronze reproductions of the sculptures were cast after Degas’s death.

“It is deeply ironic that Degas’s fragile and deliberately ephemeral, one-of-a-kind sculptures are now best known from their durable bronze serial casts, displayed in public and private collections across the globe,” said Victoria Avery, keeper of applied arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Degas is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism but he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist.

He was a superb draftsman and particularly masterly in depicting movement, which is illustrated in his paintings and sculptures of dancers and nudes.

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