Degas was known to Picasso's generation as "The Painter of Dancers." Picasso showed little interest in ballet as a young man, but later a growing fascination with Degas's art gradually extended to his dance imagery. During Picasso's early years in Paris, he made several startling responses to Degas's celebrated Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, probably known to Picasso through hearsay and reproductions of its preparatory studies. He also became more familiar with Degas's ballet pictures when large numbers were displayed in Paris after the artist's death in 1917. By this date Picasso was working on stage and costume designs for the ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev, and had met his future wife, the ballerina Olga Khokhlova. Just as Degas had depicted dancers on the stage and in the classroom, Picasso made studies of Olga and the Diaghilev company. Roughly a decade later, Picasso also created a series of small plaster figures that can be seen as bathers or ballerinas, some recalling bronzes by Degas he had seen at a 1931 exhibition.
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