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Unit 7, Art Booklet Project

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Art History Honors

Edgar Degas

July 19, 1834-September 27, 1917

French Painter and Sculptor Impressionist

By Kelsey Tschida

This booklet is about Edgar Degas. I chose this artist, because I saw his art in a museum and loved it. However I never looked him up until now, I really wanted to learn more about him and when I did I knew that others would love his story too. In here are Degas' amazing works and an explanation on why he made them, I hope you like this booklet!

Edgar was born July 19, 1834, in France. He lived with his father and beloved mother along with his five younger brothers, unfortunately at thirteen his mother died.

Rene De Gas

1855

Oil on canvas

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C

This is a painting of Edgar's younger brother, Rene. Unlike his later impressionist painting this painting is realism.

As Edgar grew his father wanted him to study law, but Degas decided to go to Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1855. As Edgar began to study art he greatly admired Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, for his very decisive brushstrokes and lines. 1856, he went to Italy and lived in Rome for three years, there he began to like Early Christian and medieval masterpieces along with the Renaissance artists, he even copied many of them, then in 1861, Edgar began doing historical paintings.

Daughter of Jephthah 

1859-1861

Oil on canvas

Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts 

This is a painting is from a story in the Old Testament from when Jephthah swore to the Lord to sacrifice the first thing that came out his house and was forced to sacrifice his daughter

1862 to 1870 Edgar mainly painted his friends and family until 1870, this was the Franco Prussian War. During this time he served in the artillery of the national guard and started displaying his work with the less well established impressionists until 1886, this grouped him as impressionist even though his drawings and the composition wasn’t the same as the others. The most important paintings to Edgar was portraits compared to the other impressionists, his were the best in Western art since the Renaissance.

The Bellelli Family 

1858-1867

 oil on canvas 

Ordrupgaard Collection, Copenhagen  

 This is a painting of his father’s sister with her husband along with her daughters. 

This is one of my favorites, because during this time is when his grandfather had just recently died and the colors used in this painting due to the seriousness is amazing because not only did Edgar use color to show emotion, but the way that the mother and children are in the painting. The father also is wearing dull colors, but not like the mother, this is to probably show that the aunt was very close to her father and maybe the children. Edgar made the mother look sophisticated as she stands tall, as you can see there are two girls in this picture with different ages. The way that they are positioned is to probably show the difference. The one standing is like her mother, standing tall trying to be sophisticated like her, while the other one is sitting looking at her father. I think this is to show which child is like who.

In 1870 Edgar began to draw ballerinas, but not as they dance but when they least expect it. Even though the dancers are unprepared and aren’t in a graceful position Edgar calculated the position of things for balance that is clever and subtle. Edgar believed that human figures were a prop to be position in anyway to make a interesting picture to paint. He was inspired by Japanese prints by them making unusual poses and cut off figures

A Carriage at the Races 

1872 

Oil on canvas

Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery

 If you look at the person in the carriage left they are nearly cut down the middle. If more of this figure was shown it would have been a normal symmetry to artists

Unfortunately in the mid 1870, Edgar began to loose his sight and stopped using oil, instead he began using pastel. By using pastel he handled it more broadly and with more freedom than he did using oil. The pastels helped him create airiness and lightness in his paintings

Ballerina and Lady with a Fan

 1886 

Pastel 

Philadelphia Museum of Art

This is my second favorite painting due to the colors used in it. To me because Edgar was loosing eye sight he came up with some interesting color combinations like the lady’s fan. The way that the ballerinas are positioned make them look so graceful, the one in the bright yellow dress looks very beautiful, because of the colors blending very nicely. The dancers wear bursts of colors that you can almost imagine on stage as they dance. 

To me Edgar is trying to make the viewer think of all those colors not as a big group of people dancing in bright colors, but colors dancing together making harmony and the lady up front is the viewer watching the beauty

In 1866, Degas started making bronze statues like horses and dancers. Some of his dancer statues were clothed in real costumes, but even though they were in the real cloth Edgar made them look small and scrawny. 

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

1881

Painted bronze with muslin and silk on wooden base

Tate Modern

In 1890, Edgar became blind and began to live by himself wandering the streets of Paris, sadly on September 27,1917 he died. 

Although Edgar Degas was an impressionist he didn’t share the same impressionists view. He didn’t focus on light and color as much as he did on composition, line, and form. He is one of the greatest French artists, who later then inspired Toulouse Lautrec and Pablo Picasso.