Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas Painting

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Edgar Degas Painting

Edgar Degas: Capturing Life’s Essence through Artistry


Edgar Degas, a prominent figure in the Impressionist movement, is renowned for his remarkable ability to capture the fleeting moments of daily life with a unique blend of precision and emotion. His distinctive style, coupled with his innovative approach to art, has left an indelible mark on the art world. This article explores the life, style, historical significance, and his association with art schools that shaped his artistic journey.


Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, known as Edgar Degas, was born on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France. His father’s wealth afforded him the opportunity to pursue his artistic passions without financial constraints. Degas initially studied law but eventually followed his true calling and enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Artistic Style and Techniques

Degas’ style is characterized by his fascination with movement, light, and the depiction of ordinary life. His works often feature dancers, racehorses, and intimate scenes of women in various settings. One of his unique contributions was his emphasis on capturing candid moments, often in unconventional compositions.

Degas’ technical prowess was evident in his mastery of different mediums, including oil painting, pastels, printmaking, and sculpture. His pastel works, in particular, are celebrated for their vibrancy and expressive qualities. Degas had an extraordinary ability to convey texture and form, creating a tactile experience for the viewer.

Historical Significance and Impressionism

Degas was a pivotal figure in the Impressionist movement, though he resisted being labeled as an Impressionist. He shared the Impressionists’ interest in capturing fleeting moments and the effects of light, but his style also differed in its focus on formal composition and drawing.

His artworks often portray scenes of Parisian life, showcasing the transformation of the city during the 19th century. Degas’ involvement in Impressionist exhibitions helped shape the movement’s trajectory and established him as one of its leading figures.

École des Beaux-Arts and Influences

Degas’ formal art education began at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he honed his skills in traditional techniques such as drawing and painting. However, his exposure to the works of fellow artists and the changing artistic climate of Paris led him to explore new artistic directions.

While he gained valuable skills at the École, Degas’ later works demonstrated a departure from the academic norms he learned there. His fascination with photography‘s ability to capture spontaneous moments influenced his innovative compositions, where subjects were often cropped and posed unconventionally.

Legacy and Impact

Degas’ legacy extends beyond his contributions to Impressionism. His ability to capture the essence of movement, the play of light, and the emotional depth of his subjects continues to resonate with audiences. He broke away from traditional approaches to art and embraced experimentation, influencing subsequent generations of artists.


Edgar Degas’ artistic journey showcases his evolution from traditional academic training to innovative exploration, resulting in a style that uniquely captured the nuances of daily life. His commitment to depicting the human experience with authenticity and emotion has earned him a lasting place in the pantheon of great artists. Degas’ legacy remains a testament to the power of artistic innovation and the enduring impact of his contributions to the art world.


Edgar Degas Painting
Edgar Degas Painting


Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas was a French painter and sculptor whose innovative composition, skillful drawing, and perceptive analysis of movement made him one of the masters of modern art in the late 19th century.

Degas is usually classed with the impressionists, and he exhibited with them in seven of the eight impressionist exhibitions. However, his training in classical drafting and his dislike of painting directly from nature produced a style that represented a related alternative to impressionism.

Degas was born into a well-to-do banking family on July 19, 1834, in Paris. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under a disciple of the famous French classicist J. A. D. Ingres, where Degas developed the great drawing ability that was to be a salient characteristic of his art.

After 1865, under the influence of the budding impressionist movement, he gave up academic subjects to turn to contemporary themes. But, unlike the impressionists, he preferred to work in the studio and was uninterested in the study of natural light that fascinated them.

He was attracted by theatrical subjects, and most of his works depict racecourses, theaters, cafés, music halls, or boudoirs. Degas was a keen observer of humanity—particularly of women, with whom his work is preoccupied—and in his portraits as well as in his studies of dancers, milliners, and laundresses, he cultivated a complete objectivity, attempting to catch his subjects in poses as natural and spontaneous as those recorded in action photographs.

His study of Japanese prints led him to experiment with unusual visual angles and asymmetrical compositions. His subjects often appear cropped at the edges, as in Ballet Rehearsal (1876, Glasgow Art Galleries and Museum). In Woman with Chrysanthemums (1865, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City), the female subject of the picture is pushed into a corner of the canvas by the large central bouquet of flowers.

In the 1880s, when his eyesight began to fail, Degas began increasingly to work in two new media that did not require intense visual acuity: sculpture and pastel. In his sculpture, as in his paintings, he attempted to catch the action of the moment, and his ballet dancers and female nudes are depicted in poses that make no attempt to conceal their subjects’ physical exertions. His pastels are usually simple compositions containing only a few figures. He was obliged to depend on vibrant colors and meaningful gestures rather than on precise lines and careful detailing, but, in spite of such limitations, these works are eloquent and expressive and have a simple grandeur unsurpassed by any of his other works.

Degas was not well known to the public, and his true artistic stature did not become evident until after his death. He died in Paris on September 27, 1917.