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• Biography •

DegasEdgar Degas (July 19, 1834 – September 27, 1917) was a French painter and sculptor. Born Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas on July 19th, 1834 into a wealthy Paris family. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. While there, he developed the great drawing ability essential to his style.

Originally painting classic academic subjects, Degas switched after 1865 to more of his age's contemporary themes. Although linked with the impressionists, Degas was not fascinated as were others by the influence of natural light and did most of his work within his studio. His work seemed to stem from the humanistic experience as he paintings depicted such horse racing, circuses, the theater, and ballet. He was painstaking in his desire to capture his subjects, particularly women, in natural poses of movement and grace. His work could be compared to that of many modern day artistic photographers. He was also later captivated by a study of Japanese prints of which style seemed to influence his later work. He used the Japanese idea of asymmetrical design often using an object to set the subject to the side of a painting. An example of this would be Woman with Chrysanthemums where the female subject is pushed into one corner by a bouquet of flowers.

Degas began losing his eyesight later on, so he resorted to a change of medium. He began working with sculpture and pastels. His sculpture was noted for its inherent movement and his pastels for their simpleness of subject with little in the way of complex backgrounds. This work, although very different than his earlier paintings, also has gained a notoriety of its own largely from its use of simple design or vibrant colors. Never really successful during his lifetime, Degas was largely discovered as a master after his death in 1917.

• Artwork •

Ballet Rehearsal (Click to enlarge)Ballet Rehearsal
Degas' enthusiasm for the expressions of the human form, its movement, line and contour, is captured in this delightful canvas with the ballet dancers of the Paris Opera. It is dramatic and moving - with the striking effect he creates with light playing against the shadows.

Racehorses at Longchamp (Click to enlarge)Racehorses at Longchamp Degas felt no animal was closer to a première danseuse, a star in the ballet, than a perfectly balanced thoroughbred. He loved to display their beauty, supreme grace and elegant leanness, searching always for accuracy in style, and style in accuracy.

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