Born. 19.07.1834 in Paris
Died. 27.09.1917 in Paris
French artist, Sculptor, Impressionist
About the artist
Edgar Degas was born in Paris on 19 July 1834. After originally planning to study and become a lawyer he realised that his love of painting should be pursued. He studied with Louis Lamothe at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, incorporating the lines of Ingres.
Degas travelled to Italy in 1856 copying the works of the great artists there for three years. After returning to Paris, he continued to improve by copying the paintings at the Louvre. His first exhibit at the salon “Scene of War in the Middle Ages” did not draw much success and at this time he was influenced by Édouard Manet who he had met also copying at the Louvre.
Degas discovered that he had problems with his eyesight after enlisting in the National Guard in 1870. A problem that caused him great concern throughout his life.
After the war, Degas went to the USA to visit family members, producing several works during his visit. One painting, ‘The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans’, was admired back in France and purchased by a museum.
Degas returned to Paris and joined forces with a group of young artists who were intent on forming an independent exhibiting society. Their first exhibitions were held in 1874. Called the Impressionists, they held seven additional shows until 1886. Degas rejected the label Impressionist that the press had created, and his insistence on including traditional artists created conflict, causing the group to disband in 1886.
In the late 1880s, Degas took up photography. He photographed his friends and acquaintances and used some of the photographs in his drawings and paintings.
Degas stopped working in 1912 when he was forced to move from his home to another part of the city. His last years were spent as a sad and lonely man walking blindly around the streets of Paris. Degas was 83 when he died on 27 September 1917 in Paris.