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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.
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He was never married although he did count several women, including the American painter Mary Cassatt, among his intimate friends. Degas passed away on September 27, 1917, at the age of 83.
While Degas has always been recognized as one of the greatest Impressionist painters, his legacy has been mixed in the decades since his death. The misogynist overtones present in his sexualized portraits of women, as well as his intense anti-Semitism,
have served to alienate Degas from some modern critics. Still, the sheer beauty of his early works and the distinctly modern self-conscious elusiveness of his later portraits ensure Degas a lasting legacy. One thing remains indisputable about Degas: His were among the most painstakingly polished and refined paintings in history. An obsessive and careful planner, Degas liked to joke that he was the least spontaneous artist alive. "If painting weren't difficult," he once remarked. "It wouldn't be so fun."
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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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