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Edgar Degas,

1834-1917

Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas, a French painter and sculptor, was born on July 19, 1834, in Paris. Degas studied at the École des Beaux-Arts.

A natural leader of the impressionist movement, Degas’ innovative nature, composition and perceptive analysis of movement made him one of the masters of modern art in the late 19th century.  He and others of his era became known as Impressionists because critics considered their work incomplete, as mere sketches or impressions.

Degas was attracted by theatrical subjects.  His works portrayed horse races, ballet classes, theaters, cafés, music halls, or boudoirs. Degas was a keen observer of humanity—particularly of women, with whom his work is preoccupied.  He was also enthralled with the study of dancers, milliners, and laundresses.

In the early 1870s, the female ballet dancer became the focus of Degas’ paintings and sketches. He utilized live models in his studio to depict rehearsals and performance scenes with dancers on stage, entering the stage, or waiting to perform.

Degas was not well known and his artistic stature did not become evident until after his death.”


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