Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

1834 - 1917

Degas specialised in scenes of contemporary life, including dancers, entertainers and women at their toilette. His mastery of technique was superb, and he experimented with various media including pastel. Degas remains a popular artist today; his changing styles and preoccupations are well represented in the Collection.

Portrait of Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
Detail from Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Self-portrait
© The Art Archive/Musée d'Orsay, Paris/Gianni Dagli Orti 

 

Degas exhibited from the beginning with the Impressionists in Paris. He was able to follow an independent path; his private income meant that he was not forced to attract buyers. He spent most of his life in Paris, abandoning his study of law in 1855 to train with the academic painter Louis Lamothe. In 1855 he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was in Rome 1856/7, and subsequently often travelled to Italy. He deeply admired Ingres, but soon developed an Impressionist approach, under the influence of Manet, whom he knew well.

Degas was a reclusive man, though famed as a brilliant conversationalist. He practised the new technique of photography, which perhaps affected his approach to composition. He was a sculptor as well as a painter, especially in his later years when deteriorating sight troubled him and he was forced to work in the studio close to the model. His later graphic works are mostly in pastel.

Related paintings

After the Bath, Woman drying herself
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1890-5
After the Bath, Woman drying herself
At the Café Châteaudun
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1869-71
At the Café Châteaudun
Ballet Dancers
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1890-1900
Ballet Dancers
Beach Scene
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1869-70
Beach Scene
Carlo Pellegrini
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1876-7
Carlo Pellegrini
Combing the Hair ('La Coiffure')
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1896
Combing the Hair ('La Coiffure')
Head of a Woman
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1874
Head of a Woman
Head of a Woman
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1873
Head of a Woman
Hélène Rouart in her Father's Study
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1886
Hélène Rouart in her Father's Study
Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
1879
Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando
Portrait of Elena Carafa
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1875
Portrait of Elena Carafa
Princess Pauline de Metternich
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1865
Princess Pauline de Metternich
Promenade beside the Sea
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1860
Promenade beside the Sea
Russian Dancers
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1899
Russian Dancers
Three Dancers in Violet Tutus
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1896
Three Dancers in Violet Tutus
Young Spartans Exercising
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
about 1860
Young Spartans Exercising
 
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