Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas
Movement or School:
He began his studies in art under a student of Jean-August- Dominique Ingres, a master of classical art, at the École des Beaux-Arts. However, he dropped out soon after and traveled to Italy to continue his art studies. His initial intention was to paint realistically, until the impressionist movement influenced him. It was for that reason that he gave up his academic career in the 1860's.
Edgar Degas is known for his sarcasm and wit, as well as his loyalty towards friends and family. He was anti-Semitic and may have also harbored a hatred for women, even though most of his subjects are women. Degas was a Captain in a artillery unit during the Franco-Prussian war. He also had a brother in New Orleans, whom he once visited. His brother had many debts, and Degas used his own money to pay them off.
Degas met Manet at the Louvre in 1861, and he was
taken into the latter's circle where he began to paint modern subjects rather
than those of the past as he had done. He met the painter Mary Cassatt
in 1877, and even though she was a woman, they were friends until his death.
Contribution to Portraits and Figures:
His style, especially the vibrant colors used in his paintings, is similar to that of the Impressionists. He was not a member that group but often did exhibition with them. Degas was known to be contemptuous of women, yet they were the dominant subject of his paintings. He was attracted by theatrical subjects, about half of his paintings were of ballerinas, many of which feature women in natural poses. The more surprising of his images were his female nudes. Up to this time, most well known artists had painted nudes that were considered beautiful in their time. Degas's nudes were of overweight women in awkward positions.
He was a master of pastels, as his eyesight began to fade, he used the medium more frequently. He did a lot of sculpture in the 1880's. He sculpted ballerinas, and dressed them up in real clothing which gave it a more realistic look. Edgar Degas is considered a master at drawing figures in motion.