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El Greco, “A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle (Soplón)” (1570-72), oil on canvas, 60.5 x 50.5 cm. Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples (image via Web Gallery of Art)

The closing of the Valsuani foundry on the outskirts of Paris, which had been the authorized producer of bronze versions of Edgar Degas’s wax sculptures, has rekindled the debate over the authenticity and value of these works. According to William D. Cohan, writing in the New York Times, “For years, some scholars have taken issue with whether the bronzes can accurately be attributed to Degas, because they question whether the plasters from which they are cast can be traced back to wax sculptures he created.”

As for Degas, whose monotypes are the subject of an acclaimed new show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Cohan writes that he “hated the idea of casting his sculptures in bronze. ‘To be survived by sculpture in bronze — what a responsibility!’ he is reported to have said. ‘Bronze is so very indestructible.’”

Between ourselves and our real natures we interpose that wax figure of idealizations and selections which we call our character.

—Walter Lippmann

The constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

—Thomas Jefferson

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

—William Shakespeare

What was my body to me? A kind of flunkey in my service. Let but my anger wax hot, my love grow exalted, my hatred collect in me, and that boasted solidarity between me and my body was gone.

—Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Being kissed by a man who didn’t wax his mustache was — like eating an egg without salt.

—Rudyard Kipling, The Story of the Gadsbys

Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.

—Arthur Schopenhauer

He obliged Cinderella to sit down, and, putting the slipper to her little foot, he found it went on very easily, and fitted her as if it had been made of wax.

—Charles Perrault

Death is nothing if one cannot approach it as such. I was just a tiny night-light, suffocated in its own wax, and on the point of expiring.

—E. M. Forster, Commonplace Book

Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.

—Baruch Spinoza

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

—Psalm 22:14 (KJV)

So many of his prayers had remained unanswered that he had hopes that this one prayer of his had lodged all the time like wax in the Eternal ear.

—Graham Greene

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Weekend Editors

Hyperallergic's Weekend editors are Natalie Haddad, Thomas Micchelli, Albert Mobilio, and John Yau.

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