Degas' The Little Dancer up for sale

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The bronze figure, one of only a handful of casts remaining in private hands, is expected to fetch £9-12 million when it is auctioned at Sotheby's on February 3.

Lily Howes, a 14-year-old student of the Royal Ballet School, today posed alongside the sculpture which was originally modelled on a ballerina of the same age.

The Little Dancer shocked contemporaries when it was first exhibited for its vivid depiction of the strain of ballet training on a barely adolescent girl.

Melanie Clore, co-chairman of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby's, said: "This is the most important and iconic sculpture by Edgar Degas. We are thrilled to be offering this remarkable work which is so celebrated for the revolutionary nature of its modern sculptural form."

Created in wax circa 1879-81, The Little Dancer was the only sculpture Degas exhibited during his lifetime.

The wax figure was found in the artist's studio following his death in 1917 and cast in bronze in 1922...

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