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 ?
Edgar Degas, Portrait of Achilla de Gas in the Uniform of a Cadet.
The horse bronze by French master Edgar Degas, being shown by Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at the National Museum
A youthful self-portrait by Edgar Degas, painted in 1857-1858, was expected to go for between EUR417,819 and EUR537,195 but sold for EUR850,941.
And somewhere in the audience, capturing the ballerina's every move in art, is one of the leading impressionists of his generation, Edgar Degas.
Stolen painting by Edgar Degas to be given Back to France
To the uninitiated it seems that these 74 sculptures are the work of famous French artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917).
At first Harry thought the man was about to commission a painting from him but he turned the conversation around to forgeries, offering to set him up in a studio where he would spend about two years studying the style and techniques of Edgar Degas.
Showcasing works by artists including Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Claude Monet and by photography pioneers such as Gustave Le Gray and Henri Le Secq, this generously illustrated volume shows how the new medium of photography affected 19th century ideas on image making and recording the passage of time, and how photography ultimately influenced the rise of Impressionism.
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.
There are no ghosts or goblins lurking but rather an absent mother and Edgar Degas.
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.