More than half of Degas’s works depict dancers! Sitting on a bench, striking ballet poses, stretching, relaxing, training, on stage and behind the scenes, rehearsing, fixing stockings, chatting in close circles and being alienated from a group – it seems the painter had the ambition to capture every single aspect of their professional life. True fascination transferred onto canvas, paper and bronze…
Edgar was a difficult, annoying personality. Although now the artist is considered as one of the most important representatives of Impressionism movement he despised the term and recommended to call him ‘realist’. Degas was in constant conflict with other artists in the group and never understood Impressionists’ desire to create art as spontaneous as possible.
His style reflects a deep respect for the old masters, especially for Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Eugène Delacroix. Degas’s early years’ ambitions were to be a history painter, as well as the enthusiastic copyist of great Renaissance artists: Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and others. However by the late 1860s artist had shifted from his initial forays to an original observation of contemporary Parisian life, using off-center compositions and experimenting with colour, form and different media.
Degas’s work was controversial but generally admired for its draftsmanship. Recognised as an important artist in his lifetime, he is now considered “one of the founders of Impressionism”. Though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries, his involvement with the other major figures of Impressionism and their exhibitions served to finally tie him to the movement as one of its greatest artists.
Edgar Degas (born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas in Paris, 1834 – 1917)