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Edgar Degas

Updated August 12, 2022

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Edgar Degas essay

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Degas was a French artist, some people would refer to him as the expert of drawing the human figure in motion. He was known as an Impressionists, and was different from all the other artist of his type. Edgar Degas was a person who, at certain times, brashly defied propriety and common social practice. Although he could be the nicest person, at times he would go into rages during social gatherings, becoming hostile with the people who disagreed with his ways and opinions.

Edgar Degas was born on July 19, 1834, at Saint-Georges in Paris. His father was a French banker, and his mother was an American from New Orleans. While Degas was growing up his idol was the painter. He began his artistic studies with Louis Lamothes, a pupil of Ingres. After studying there he moved on and started classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1854, he left and went to Italy. For 5 years he stayed there and studied Italian art, mainly works. Edgar Degas was known as an Impressionist.

The Impressionist were artist who exhibited their works of art in independent shows from 1874 to 1886. It was the common desire to make an open forum for artist to show their work that united the group. The word “Impressionist” was created by the critic Louis Leroy after seeing paintings in the first Impressionists exhibition in April of 1874. The name that Leroy gave his article in the French periodical was Charivari “Exhibition of the Impressionists” and sarcastically protected the new style of painting that ignored details, bared brushstrokes, and put unblended colors beside each other. Just like most of the French public, Leroy did not take into consideration the works by Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar as art that deserved serious attention.

In 1859 he returned to Paris. There he painted portraits of family and friends and many historical subjects, where he used both classical and romantic styles. In the late 1860s he switched to contemporary themes, painting both theatrical scenes and portraits with big emphasis on social and intellectual implications of props and setting. Around 1868 Degas began to get recognized as an artist.

During the early 1870s, the female became Degass favorite theme. In his studio he sketched from a live model and put poses together in groupings that illustrated rehearsal and performance scenes. In 1872 he visited some of his relatives in Louisiana, he painted The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans, which is his only picture that was aquired by a museum in his lifetime. Pastels became Edgars preferred type of art after 1880. By using sharper colors he gave more attention to surface patterning, depicting milliners, and laundresses. Degas depended on memory and earlier drawings for the poses. Even though he became guarded and withdrawn late in life, Edgar made strong friendships with literary people. He exhibited a sculpture in 1881, Little Dancer, and after that his eyesight failed. From there on he turned to sculpture, and modeling figures in wax over metal armatures. The sculptures he made stayed in his studio in disrepair and after his death were cast in bronze.

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Edgar Degas. (2018, Dec 04). Retrieved from