- NAME: Edgar Degas
- OCCUPATION: Painter, Sculptor
- BIRTH DATE: July 19, 1834
- DEATH DATE: September 27, 1917
- EDUCATION: Lycée Louis-le-Grand, University of Paris (Université de Paris), École des Beaux-Arts (formerly the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Paris, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
- Nickname: Painter of Dancers
- AKA: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar de Gas
- AKA: Edgar De Gas
- Full Name: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
- AKA: Edgar Degas
Best Known For
Painter and sculptor Edgar Degas was a highly celebrated 19th century French Impressionist whose work helped shape the fine art landscape for years to come.
Edgar Degas regularly went to the Paris Opera House to observe the ballerinas and paint them in their studio. But in his thirties his eyesight began to fail forcing him to turn to the tactile art of sculpture.
Leonardo da Vinci began apprenticing under the artist Verrocchio. His best-known works are two of the most famous paintings of all time, the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper."
Leonardo da Vinci turned what was intended to be a modest wall decoration into a revolutionary artistic composition of The Last Supper.
In the year, 1503 Leonardo da Vinci returned to Florence and began a portrait that would become one of the most famous works of art of all time.
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Born on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France, Edgar Degas went on to study at the École des Beaux-Arts (formerly the Académie des Beaux-Arts) in Paris and became renowned as a stellar portraitist, fusing Impressionistic sensibilities with traditional approaches. Both a painter and sculptor, Degas enjoyed capturing female dancers and played with unusual angles and ideas around centering. His work influenced several major modern artists,
"If painting weren't difficult, it wouldn't be so fun."
including Pablo Picasso. Degas died in Paris in 1917.
Edgar Degas was born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar de Gas on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France. His father, Auguste, was a banker, and his mother, Celestine, was an American from New Orleans. Their family were members of the middle class with nobler pretensions. For many years, the Degas family spelled their name "de Gas"; the preposition "de" suggesting a land-owning aristocratic background which they did not actually have.
As an adult, Edgar Degas reverted back to the original spelling. Degas came from a very musical household; his mother was an amateur opera singer and his father occasionally arranged for musicians to give recitals in their home. Degas attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, a prestigious and rigorous boys' secondary school, where he received a classical education.
Degas also displayed a remarkable skill for drawing and painting as a child, a talent encouraged by his father, who was a knowledgeable art lover. In 1853, at the age of 18, he received permission to "copy" at the Louvre in Paris. (During the 19th century, aspiring artists developed their technique by attempting to replicate the works of the masters.) He produced several impressive copies of Raphael as well, studying the work of more contemporary painters such as Ingres and Delacroix.
In 1855, Degas gained admission into the École des Beaux-Arts (formerly the Académie des Beaux-Arts) in Paris. However, after only one year of study, Degas left school to spend three years traveling, painting and studying in Italy. He painted painstaking copies of the works of the great Italian renaissance painters Michelangelo and da Vinci, developing a reverence for classical linearity that remained a distinguishing feature of even his most modern paintings.
Upon returning to Paris in 1859, Degas set out to make a name for himself as a painter. Taking a traditional approach, he painted large portraits of family members and grand historical scenes such as "The Daughter of Jephtha," "Semiramis Building Babylon" and "Scene of War in the Middle Ages." Degas submitted these works to the all-powerful Salon, a group of French artists and teachers who presided over public exhibitions. It had very rigid and conventional ideas of beauty and proper artistic form, and received Degas's paintings with measured indifference.
In 1862, Degas met fellow painter Edouard Manet at the Louvre, and the pair quickly developed a friendly rivalry. Degas grew to share Manet's disdain for the presiding art establishment as well as his belief that artists needed to turn to more modern techniques and subject matter.
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Derived from Claude Monet's piece entitled Impression, the term "impressionism" was created to describe the work of a select group of Parisian painters in the late 19th century. With their thin brush strokes and explosion of color and lighting on mundane subjects, impressionists painters like Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Alfred Sisley confounded critics, defied conventions, and sparked scandal. A century and a half later, they are among the most revered and influentional artists of all time.
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