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Edgar Degas Art

French, 1834-1917

Edgar Degas, born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas in Paris in 1834, was the oldest of five children of Célestine Musson De Gas, a Creole from New Orleans, and Augustin De Gas, a banker. Degas began his schooling at age eleven, enrolling in the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, but after his mother died when he was thirteen, his father and grandfather became the main influences on him for the remainder of his youth.

Upon graduating the Lycée in 1853, at age 18, he registered as a copyist in the Louvre Museum, but his father expected him to go to law school. Degas duly enrolled at the faculty of law of the University of Paris, in November 1853, but applied little effort to his studies. In 1855, Degas met Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, whose advice he never forgot: “Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist.” In April of that year, Degas was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts.

Evidence of Degas’ classical education can be seen in his early painting, Young Spartans Exercising (ca. 1860; National Gallery, London), done while he was still in his twenties. After 1865, when the Salon accepted his history painting The Misfortunes of the City of Orléans (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), Degas did not paint Academic subjects again, focusing his attention on scenes of modern life. He began to paint scenes of such urban leisure activities as horse racing and, after about 1870, of café-concert singers and ballet dancers. Degas' interest in ballet dancers intensified in the 1870s, and eventually he produced approximately 1,500 works on the subject. These are not traditional portraits, but studies that address the movement of the human body, exploring the physicality and discipline of the dancers through the use of contorted postures and unexpected vantage points.

Following the opening of trade with Japan in 1854, many French artists, including Degas, were increasingly influenced by Japanese prints. Degas abstracted from these prints their inventive compositions and points of view, particularly in his use of cropping and asymmetry [Dancers Practicing at the Bar (1877); Dancers, Pink and Green (ca. 1890)]. He also observed how sixteenth-century Italian Mannerists similarly framed their subjects, sometimes cutting off part of a figure.

Degas had an interest in a wide range of media, including engraving, monotype, and photography. Before 1880, he generally used oils for his completed works, but after 1875, he began using pastels more frequently, even in finished works such as Portraits at the Stock Exchange (1876). He submitted a suite of nudes, all rendered in pastel, to the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886; among these was Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub (1885). The figures in these pastels were criticized for their ungainly poses.

By the late 1880s, Degas’s eyesight had begun to fail, perhaps as a result of an injury suffered during his service in defending Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. After that time he focused almost exclusively on dancers and nudes, increasingly turning to sculpture. Degas continued working as late as 1912, when he was forced to leave the studio in Montmartre in which he had labored for more than twenty years. He died five years later in 1917, at the age of eighty-three.

Find original Edgar Degas drawings, prints, paintings and other art on 1stDibs.

(Biography provided by Stern Pissarro Gallery)

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Artist: Edgar Degas
Soft Ground Etching, On Stage, 1887 by Edgar Degas
By Edgar Degas
Located in Kent, CT
On Stage, 1887, by Edgar Degas is a 4x5 in soft-ground etching made at a historically crucial period in Degas’ career.
Category

1880s Edgar Degas Art

Materials

Etching

Fourth Position Front, on the Left Leg
By Edgar Degas
Located in New Orleans, LA
Signed, numbered, dated, and stamped with foundry mark “Degas / 6G / 1998 / CIRE C.VALSUANI PERDUE” Bronze This extraordinary bronze sculpture of a dancer in motion was conceived by...
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20th Century Impressionist Edgar Degas Art

Materials

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Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Paintings Gallery
By Edgar Degas
Located in San Francisco, CA
Original etching, soft-ground, aquatint, and drypoint printed in black ink on wove paper. A superb impression of Delteil, Adhémar and Reed & Shapiro’s definitive state, printed afte...
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1870s Impressionist Edgar Degas Art

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ABS, Etching

Étude de Cheval
By Edgar Degas
Located in Palm Desert, CA
A drawing by Edgar Degas. "Étude de Cheval" is a black chalk on laid paper drawing of a horse in side and three-quarter view by Impressionist artist Edgar Degas. Provenance: Sotheby'...
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Late 19th Century Impressionist Edgar Degas Art

Materials

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Les Chiffonniers - Figurative Impressionist Sketch, Ragpickers by Edgar Degas
By Edgar Degas
Located in Marlow, Buckinghamshire
A wonderful framed pencil sketch by the famous and extremely sought after French impressionist artist Edgar Degas. The work depicts two ragpickers - "chiffoniers" - collecting rags t...
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Early 1900s Impressionist Edgar Degas Art

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"Studies of Horses and Riders" - Degas Sketchbook Drawing - Horse Racing
By Edgar Degas
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Known for his focus on contemporary subjects, French Impressionist Edgar Degas first began to depict horses in the 1860s. The increasing popularity of racing in Europe matched with D...
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Mid-19th Century Impressionist Edgar Degas Art

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after Edgar Degas - Dance - Porfolio of 26 Etchings
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Edgar Degas art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Edgar Degas art for sale. You can also search art by medium to find Edgar Degas in etching, paper, bronze and more. Much of this artist's original work was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the Impressionist style. Not every interior allows for large Edgar Degas art, so small editions measuring 6 inches across are available. Customers interested in this artist might also find the work of Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne and Edouard Vuillard. Edgar Degas art prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $1,200 and tops out at $149,850, while the average work can sell for $38,000.

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