Researching Famous Artists
Who is your favorite artist?
Edgar Degas
The Life of Edgar Degas
By Ericka

Edgar Degas painting recreated by Ericka


Part I

  The artist that I picked was Edgar Degas. Degas was a famous Impressionist painter. An Impressionist is an artist who gives you an idea of an object, or what it looks like without so much detail, in their paintings. Impressionism started in the 1800.s in Paris.

  Edgar Degas was born in Paris on July 19, 1843. His full name was Hillaire-Germain Edgar Degas. Degas was the eldest of five children. His father, Auguste, hung around artist and musicians and liked playing the piano. Auguste would take Edgar to museums in Paris.


  Degas loved books. He was a serious student in high school and passed a challenging exam, which allowed him to pick any type of university he wanted to go to. Auguste wanted him to go to law school, but Degas quit within the first year and instead went to an art school.  Edgar enjoyed copying artwork form a French Museum. He ended up moving to Italy to finish his studies there. While in Italy, Degas stayed with his Italian relatives. He got a lot of his practice by painting his relatives.

  Later on Degas stayed with his aunt, Laura, her tow daughters and her husband. On his stay, he painted each family member.  He also came upon a group of painters that were called Macchiaioli, which means spot painters. These painters would dab spots of different colors on their canvasses, which was a new way of painting instead of doing a lot of details in he old traditional way. Because of these painters, Degas stopped painting the usual way (religious paintings) and started painting landscapes and scenes of the everyday life.
  One painting of the Bellelli family that Degas was working on during his stay at his aunt Laura’s house was talking him longer than he planned. His father wanted him to come back home. Edgar mailed some samples of his paintings to his father. When his father got the samples he was impressed. He asked his father if he could find a studio for him so that he could finish his painting. The painting of the Bellelli family was not discovered until Degas was dead. Degas never showed the painting of wrote about it because he thought it would be embarrassing for the family. The painting shows an unhappy looking Laura with the husband glaring impatiently. The Bellelli painting shows Degas’s growing talent for drawing and his ability for showing the subjects emotions.

  In 1870 Edgar Degas served in the artillery unit of the Garde National Army during the Franco Persian War. In 1872, after the war, he stayed in New Orleans. He painted wars with in that area. One painting is called the Cotton Exchange, his first painting to be bought by a museum. It now hangs in the Château de Pau Museum, in France.

  In 1874, Degas father passed away leaving the family in financial trouble. At this time Edgar helped organize the first exhibition of Impressionist artists. During the sixth Impressionist Exhibition he showed his first sculpture called The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer. In 1886 the eighth and final Impressionist Exhibition was held in Naples. His work there focused on women bathing, washing and combing their hair. In 1892, Degas gave up his oil paintings and focused on pastel monotypes. In 1898, the stayed with his brother Rene and began to take photographs of landscapes that he would then draw. He died in 1917, at the age of 83.

References to Edgar Degas by Susan Meyer
(Taken from the book Edgar Degas by Meyer)

  Edgar Degas was full of contradictions. One contradiction was that Degas was one of the leaders of the “Impressionist” movement. The Impressionist artists at this time were considered radical, which [means they] came up with new painting techniques. Yet he was considered conservative, which means he had old fashioned ideas about politics, women and how society should be run. When other embers of the Impressionist movement turned their backs on traditional artwork, Degas was inspired by the Old Masters of the 15th and 16th centuries. The others would paint landscapes outdoors, while he painted human figures indoors. He would also work from memory in his studio unlike the other Impressionists who would work outdoors in the field.

Part II

 I admire Degas’s landscape pictures the most. He was one of the rich people in his day. His art has been admired through time and even today is revered as one of the great artists of that time. The most expensive painting that Degas did sold for 17.6 million dollars. This paintings name is unknown.