Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas

French Painter and Sculptor, 1834 - 1917

Edgar Degas Self PortraitEdgar Degas (1834 - 1917) is perhaps best known for his paintings, drawings and bronzes of ballerinas and race horses. Degas is widely acknowledged as the master of drawing the human figure in motion. He worked in many mediums, but preferred pastel to all others.

Degas' art was concerned with the psychology of movement and expression, the harmony of line and the continuity of contour. These characteristics set Degas apart from his fellow Impressionist painters, although he took part in all but one of the eight Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886.

Degas - Blue Dancers

Dancers in Blue

by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was influenced early by the painter Jean Auguste Ingres, whose example offered him classical draftsmanship, with balance and clarity of line.

In the late 1860s, Degas turned to contemporary themes, painting both theatrical scenes and portraits with a strong emphasis on the social and intellectual implications of props and setting.

In the early 1870s the female ballet dancer became a favorite theme of Degas. He sketched from a live model in his studio and combined poses into groupings that depicted rehearsal and performance scenes in which dancers on stage, entering the stage, and resting or waiting to perform are shown simultaneously and in counterpoint, often from an oblique angle of vision.

Degas - Danseuses


by Edgar Degas

On a visit in 1872 to Louisiana, where he had relatives in the cotton business, Edgar Degas painted The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans (finished 1873; Musée Municipal, Pau, France), his only picture to be acquired by a museum in his lifetime. Other subjects from this period include the racetrack, the beach, and cafe interiors.

After 1880, pastel became Degas's preferred medium. He began to use sharper colors and gave greater attention to surface patterning, depicting milliners, laundresses, and groups of dancers against sketchily indicated backgrounds. For the poses, he depended more and more on memory or earlier drawings.

Edgar Degas - Racehorses in Landscape

Racehorses in Landscape

by Edgar Degas

Although Edgar Degas became guarded and withdrawn late in life, Degas retained strong friendships with literary people. In 1881 he exhibited a sculpture, Little Dancer (a bronze casting of which is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and as his eyesight failed thereafter he turned increasingly to sculpture, modeling figures and horses in wax over metal armatures. These sculptures remained in his studio in disrepair and were cast in bronze only after his death.

Find beautiful framed art prints by Edgar Degas.

More art by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas - Race Horses

Race Horses

by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas - The Star

The Star

by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas - Ballet School

Ballet School

by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas - Blue Dancers

Blue Dancers

by Edgar Degas

View our entire collection of Edgar Degas prints.


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