Some are inspired by the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev which was storming Paris in the first decades of the 20th century, others by the exotic dancers in the Parisian music halls such as the Folies Bergères. This model of dancing chorus girls shown above, known as Les Girls, is one of his most sought-after. Weschlers will be offering it in the March 2 auction in Rockville, Maryland, guided at $300,000-$500,000.
The 20in (51cm) high sculpture is signed D.H. Chiparus to the base, which also has a foundry mark for Etling Paris.
Each of the five girls is also marked on the right foot and numbered. Seven of the hands are missing, though.
The sculpture comes to the auction from the estate of Ziegfeld follies dancer Stella Boggs. Born in 1916 in the Panama Canal Zone, she received a six-month contract to dance for the famous Broadway producer Florentz Ziegfeld Jr, performing under the name ‘Estelita’.
She made her Broadway debut in the 1932 show Hot Cha!, one of the last shows produced by Ziegfeld before his death that same year. On returning to the canal zone she started her own dance studio and, during the war, danced in the USO shows.
Les Girls was purportedly given to her by a suitor in 1931 and has since descended through the family.