Hilaire Germain Edgar de Gas, also known as Edgar Degas was born in 1834, in Paris. He was a painter, sculptor and photographer. He first studied law but changed his path and frequented the Cabinet des Estampes de la Bibliothèque Nationale.Read More
In 1853, he became a copyist for the Louvre and joined the studio of the famous artist Félix-Joseph Barrias. Edgar Degas began to study the art of painting with Louis Lamothe. His father, an art lover, introduced him to the biggest art collectors of his time, especially Lacaze, Marcille and Val-Pinçon. Degas started studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris in 1855, but preferred a more visual approach and began travelling around Italy to see the master's canvases for himself.
He met Gustave Moreau, who became a close friend, and produced paintings for Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886 where he met Edouard Manet and Camille Pissarro. From 1870, Degas started to become interested in female dancers. He payed attention to their preparation but also their stage performances. Comparing them to stars, Degas depicted these women in a much more simplified composition. He chose a new format, thus reducing the depth of his pictorial space, lowered his prism of observation and focused on a character or a group. At first, Edgar Degas was pointed as a misogynist, because of his very realistic way to represent the female body. But these accusations were proven wrong, as Degas was the first Impressionist painter to transcribe the strength of light on women.
From 1880, Degas's sight started to decline and he preferred to use pastel and watercolour, even sometimes gouache, rather than oil painting. His physical blindness forced him to retire in his studio where he died at 83 years old, in 1917.
Text courtesy Helene Bailly Gallery.