Artist biography

Edgar Degas 1834-1917

French Impressionist painter, lithographer, etcher and sculptor. Born in Paris, the son of a banker. Studied law until 1855, when he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the studio of Lamothe, a pupil of Ingres. Painted historical subjects such as 'Young Spartans exercising', then turned to scenes of contemporary life, especially horse-racing and the ballet. Met Manet, Monet, Renoir and Pissarro and contributed to seven of the eight Impressionist exhibitions 1874-86. Always opposed the plein-air approach of Monet; stressed the importance of draughtsmanship. From c.1886 made series of oil paintings and pastels of women at their toilet and ballet dancers, with figures engaged in some characteristic action and frequently viewed from an unusual angle or cut off by the edge of the composition; his late works were executed in brilliant colours. Most of his sculptures were modelled after 1880 when he began to suffer from failing sight. In his last years, became almost blind. Died in Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.144