Edgar Degas was born in 1834 and is known for his paintings and sculptures of ballet dancers. He used many different types of media such as oil paint, pastel, pencil and sculpture.
Degas was educated in Paris at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. He studied ancient history, Latin and Greek. His father often took him to museums as a young child so that Degas could copy the Renaissance paintings. During the 1850s, Degas took many trips to Italy, where he studied and copied Italian paintings.
In the 1860s, Degas gradually stopped painting classical subjects and began to depict scenes of modern life. He helped found the Impressionist movement but thought of himself as a more of a realist or an independent. Impressionists favored landscapes and natural light, while Degas preferred to paint indoor social scenes in cafes or theatres lit with artificial light.
Degas' earlier paintings depicted recreational activities such as horse racing, but in the 1870s, he turned to painting working class people like laundresses and dancers. Degas made about 1,500 artworks depicting ballet dancers. He was fascinated with how the flexible dancers moved their bodies, and often drew them at unusual angels.
As Degas grew older, he began to lose his eyesight, and because of this, he favored sculpture. His subjects at the time were mostly informal depictions of dancers or women bathing. Degas was able to work until 1912, and he was 83 when he died in 1917.Learn More
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