Art History Honors Unit 7 Project

Edgar Degas

By: Jessalyn Brantley

 

Art History Honors

 

Artist Booklet

     This booklet was created to showcase the impressionist artist, Edgar Degas. It describes the life and art of Edgar Degas. Inside you will find a summary of his life, an explaination of his style, and information on a few of his paintings.  

     Edgar Degas was a nineteenth century French Impressionist. He was born on July 19, 1834 in Paris, France. His family was part of the middle class. Auguste, his father, was a banker and Celestine, his mother, was an American woman from New Orleans. He grew up in a musical home because his mother was an amateur opera singer.

     Degas attended Lycee Louis-le-Grand, a prestigious boys' secondary school, and received a classical education. As a child, Degas was skilled in drawing and painting, so his father encouraged him. At the age of eighteen, Degas received permission to "copy" at the Louvre in Paris. At this time, copying was the way artists developed their technique. Degas replicated the work of masters. He produced copies of Raphael and studied the works of Ingres and Delacroix. Degas also studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts. 

 

Ecole des Beaux-Arts

The Life of Edgar Degas

     After one year at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Degas spent three years traveling, painting, and studying in Italy. He produced copies of Michelangelo and Da Vinci during that period of time. Degas also submitted portraits of family members and paintings of historical scenes to the Salon, the prestigious group of French artists. The Salon was indifferent about his work. 

     In 1862, Degas met Manet at the Louvre and the two developed a friendly rivalry. Degas and Manet became prominent members of a group of avant-garde artists, along with Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. Later, Degas and other artists formed the Societe Anonyme des Artistes, a group of Impressionist artists. 

    In addition to paintings, Degas also produced many bronze sculptures. Towards the end of his life, Degas was an art collector. He never married, but he courted many women throughout his life. Degas died on September 27,1917 at the age of eighty-three in Paris, France.

The Louvre

The Style of Edgar Degas 

     Edgar Degas is known for his paintings of women. He is best known for the dancers he painted, but he painted women in other situtations also. Degas painted modern women from radical perspectives. His works portray the entrance of women into the workplace and the role of women in everyday life. For example, One of his paintings shows a woman ironing. Degas commonly painted women nude in the various stages of bathing.  He painted them drying off different body parts and combing their hair. That awkward and exposed presentation of women contrasted his depictions of graceful dancers performing at ballets. Aside from painting women, Degas painted and sculpted horses from the races. Many of his bronze sculptures are horses. The majority of his works are either of dancers or race horses.

     

Subjects of His Artwork

The Style of Edgar Degas 

Technique and Influence

     

     In most of his works, Degas played with angles. He was not interested in landscapes like many impressionists. Degas focused on the effects of indoor lighting instead. In each of his works, he captured a moment. Typically, his figures were randomly placed. He painted the figures just as they would have been at that exact moment in time. 

    He was influenced by Ingres and Delacroix, which he studied ain Italy. Degas admired the linear perfection of the Neoclassists. He was also influenced by fellow impressionists, like Monet. Degas was also an influential artists. He influenced many modern artists, including Pablo Picasso.

 

Paintings

Name: A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers

Date: 1865

Medium: Oil on Canvas

View at The  Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 810

Name: The Dance Class

Date: 1874

Medium: Oil on Canvas

View at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 815

Name: At the Races in the Countryside

Date: 1869

Medium: Oil on Canvas

View at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Name:Dancers, Pink and Green

Date: 1890

Medium: Oil on Canvas

View at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 816

Name:Young Woman with Ibis

Date: 1860-1862

Medium: Oil on Canvas

View at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 815

Name: Sulking

Date: 1870

Medium: Oil on Canvas

View at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 815

     Two of my favorite paintings by Edgar Degas are A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers and Dancers, Pink and Green. 

     I like A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers because of the use of color in the flowers. The yellow, blue, red, and white flowers stand out next to the dark and dull wardrobe of the woman. Degas is able to capture the moment by showing the woman propped up on her arm. Her hand is in a very natural position and she appears to be thinking about something. This painting makes me wonder what is on her mind and what was on the mind of Degas when he painted it. 

     I also like Dancers, Pink and Green because of the colors. While the subject of this painting is similar to many of his other paintings, it is unique because of the pinks and greens. The setting is different because the lighting is not natural and the figures are a little blurred. Degas was still able to capture the moment by painting the dancers fixing their hair, looking at their stance, or pulling on their dress. I feel like I could be attending a dance class in that very moment. The painting is truly beautiful.

Personal Favorites

  • www.metmuseum.org
  • www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project?hl=en
  • www.mfa.org/collections/object/at-the-races-in-the-countryside-32250
  • www.biography.com/people/edgar-degas-9269770

 

Sources