Maldives, 1984. Self-portrait with a Soft Hat. 1857-1858. Williamstone - Sterling & Francine Clark Institute. Sc. 1068


Dominica, 1984. Self-portrait. 1854-55. Paris, Musee d'Orsay. Sc. 863

Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917)


A French Impressionist Painter 


 There is only one thing that interests man,
 it's man.   Blaise Pascal.

Degas, (Hilaire Germain) Edgar (1834-1917) 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. Tip: Point on the stamps with the mouse index for more information about the works of art displayed and about the stamps.

Kathiri State of Hadramaut, 1967. The Absinthe Drinker, 1867-92, Musee d'Orsay. Mi. 96 Kathiri State of Hadramaut, 1967. Dega's Father and the Guitar Player Pagan, 1869-72, Boston - Museum of Fine Arts. Mi. 197 Kathiri State of Hadramaut, 1967. Miss Lala in the Paris Circus Fernando, 1879. London - National Gallery. Mi. 195 Kathiri State of Hadramaut, 1967. The Millinery Shop, 1885-97. Chicago - The Art Institite, Coburn Collection. Mi. 198

     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 Jean-Auguste-Dominique 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. 

North Korea, 1984. Race Meeting. SG. N2402 North Korea, 1984. Ballet Dancers. SG. N2403
North Kore, 1984. Mlle Fiocre in the Ballet "La Source". SG. N2400

     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.

Grenada, 1984. The Absinthe Drinker,  Sc 1225. Maldives, 1984. Portrait of James Tissot. Sc. 1065. Maldives, 1984. Lady with Chrysanthemums. Sc. 1067 Maldives, 1984. Portrait of Achille Degas. Sc. 1066 Maldives, 1984. Portrait of Edmund Iduranty. Sc. 1064.

     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.

Grenada, 1984. The Millinery Shop, Sc. 1227 Grenada, 1984. Pouting. Sc. 1225 Grenada, 1984. The Belelli Family. Sc. 1228 Monaco, 1984. La Femme et la Potiche. Sc. 1447.

     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.

Kathiri State of Hadramaut, 1967. Portrait of Rose-Adelaide Degas, 1867, Musee d'Orsay, Mi. 199 Kathiri State of Hadramaut, 1967. Portraits at the Paris Stock Exchange, 1878-79, Musee d'Orsay, Mi. 194. Dominica, 1984. Rearing Horse. Paris, Musee d'Orsay.

    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. (Sources: MS Encarta 96, Britannica Online).

Published: 01/03/01. Revised: 01/06/01. Copyright © 2001 by Victor Manta, Switzerland. All rights reserved worldwide.

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