Re: Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?
I can't speak certainly for motivation in the making of these small bronzes, but they have been well discussed here in New Orleans newspapers for many years, and NOMA has at least two small pieces that regularly rotate into active display. His mother (I believe), was a native New Orleanian, and he made a roughly yearlong visit here, mostly painting.
The museum also has at least one large painting he did here, of a New Orleans cotton exchange brokerage. It may be that an uncle or cousin was part owner. The story usually told here is that the family had the bronzes cast posthumously from plasters in his studio, to settle issues of heirship among both French and American relatives. (Louisiana is almost unique among American states in using a mix of American (English) and French law on inheritance. It is almost impossible to deny blood relatives a claim for inheritance.)