Edgar Degas

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Degas, Edgar

(Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas) (ēlĕr` zhĕrmăN` ĕdgär` dəgä`), 1834–1917, French painter and sculptor, b. Paris; son of a banker. Although prepared for the law, he abandoned it for painting, studying at the École des Beaux-Arts with L. Lamothe, a student of Ingres, and in Italy, copying 15th- and 16th-century masters. He was precociously gifted as a draftsman and a brilliantly subtle and penetrating portraitist (e.g., Bellelli Family, 1859; Louvre). He exhibited for six years in the Salon (1865–70), but later ceased showing there and exhibited with the impressionists, whose works he admired although his approach often differed from theirs. An unflagging perfectionist, Degas strove to unite the discipline of classical art with the immediacy of impressionism. Trained in the linear tradition of Ingres, Degas shared with the impressionists their directness of expression and the interest in and portrayal of contemporary life. His favorite subjects were ballet dancers, women at their toilette, café life, and race-track scenes. He made notes and sketches from living models in motion to preserve informality of action and position. From these he organized his finished work in the studio, not directly from nature as his contemporaries did. Moreover, he created many daring compositional innovations. Influenced by Japanese prints and especially by photography, Degas diverged from the traditional ideas of balanced arrangements. He introduced what appeared to be accidental cutoff views, off-center subjects, and unusual angles, all quite carefully planned. Sometimes he effected a remarkable balance by giving special weight to the focus of interest, as in Woman with Chrysanthemums (1865; Metropolitan Mus.) and Foyer of the Dance (1872; Louvre). Gradually, Degas turned away from the medium of oil painting, perhaps because of his failing eyesight. He produced more freely executed, glowing pastels and charcoal drawings. His works in sculpture include many notable studies of dancers and horses. A number of his paintings and sculptures may be seen in the Metropolitan Museum. Many of his most celebrated works, including Absinthe, The Rehearsal, and Two Laundresses (1882) are in the Louvre. Ranked among the greatest of French artists, Degas profoundly influenced such later artists as Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso.


See his letters ed. by M. Guérin (tr. 1947); catalogs of his works by J. Rewald (sculpture, 1944), L. Browse (dancers, 1949), D. Cooper (pastels, 1954), J. S. Boggs (portraits, 1962, and drawings, 1966), and E. P. Janis (monotypes, 1968); studies by A. Vollard (tr. 1927), D. C. Rich (1951), D. Halévy (tr. 1964, repr. 1971), and C. Armstrong (1991). See also J. Adhémor and F. Cochin, Degas. The Complete Etchings, Lithographs, and Monotypes (1975); J. DeVonyar and R. Kendall, Degas and the Dance (2002).

References in periodicals archive ?
The horse bronze by French master Edgar Degas, being shown by Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at the National Museum
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The stunning exterior and interior of the fully restored St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, in London The Rehearsal, by Edgar Degas, circa 1874, oil on canvas - on display at Degas and Ballet Picturing Movement, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London
French artist Edgar Degas painted "Blanchisseuses souffrant des dent" between 1870 and 1872,.
Bedroom walls are lined with prints 10 by Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, Donald Sultan and Joe Zucker and a photo by Aaron Siskind.
Sickly, neurotic, and so myopic that he is afraid of losing his sight; but for this very reason an eminently receptive creature and sensitive to the character of things," wrote French writer and art critic Edmond de Goncourt about Edgar Degas.
The bequest to the National Gallery includes Snow Scene at Argenteuil (1875) and Water-Lilies, Setting Sun (1907) by Monet, Henri Rousseau's Portrait of Joseph Brummer (1909), After the Bath (1896) by Edgar Degas and a Gauguin.
In announcing the recovery some nine days after the February 10th robbery, Zurich police said two other paintings by Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas were still missing.
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They are still searching for the other two paintings - 'Count Lepic and his Daughters' by Edgar Degas (1871) and 'Boy in a Red Waistcoat' by Paul Cezanne (1888).
1) Performing the cancan Sunday, dancers help create the atmosphere of Paris in the late 19th century at the Getty Center for a family celebration surrounding an exhibit of works by Edgar Degas, master of the human form in motion.
Artists such as 19th Century painter Edgar Degas used jockeys and graceful dancers as his subjects.