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Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas

(1834 - 1917)
Born: Paris, France
Style: Impressionism
Famous Works:
  • The Rehearsal (1873-4)
  • L'Absinthe (The Absinthe Drinker) (1876)
  • Prima Ballerina (1876)
Edgar Degas is often associated with other French Impressionists, however, the artist's vision was fundamentally different. Rather than working directly from nature, as most of his peers were, Degas worked to convey the spontaneous movement of figures. His art captured the compositions of snapshot photographs and the hues of Japanese prints. Degas was a master of composition; through building seemingly accidental pictures he was able to integrate the viewer into the experience of the scene. Many of his paintings appear to have a private narrative, a personal point of view due to their unusual cropping and angles. This unique mastery of composition sets him apart from other Impressionists. Besides his work in oil, Degas is known for his pastel drawings. Degas completed an extensive series in oil and pastel on the ballet dancers at the Paris Opera. His meticulous observation of movement, in combination with the formal aspects of ballet, produced cunning pictures of young women in rehearsal and exhibition costumes executed with light and active strokes and luminous hues. Degas was also a gifted draughtsman. He used line to carve out space rather than articulate the surface of the canvas, as his colleagues did. This study in line was inspired by his relationship with Ingres. As his eyesight failed him in his later years Degas turned to sculpting figures that were later cast in bronze after his death. Edgar Degas was one of the first Impressionists to be hailed as an international master, perhaps due not only to his contributions and superior skill as an artist, but also due to the ways in which his work is distinguished from other Impressionists.
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