Edgar Degas: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Edgar Deags.

  • Edgar Degas was a French artist, draftsman and sculptor. His most famous work is probably the Absinthe Drinker, painted in 1875 and now hanging in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
  • His father enjoyed having music recitals in their home, and his mother was an opera singer. At the age of 18 Degas was allowed to visit the famous Louvre museum to copy paintings.
  • In 1855 Degas went to Italy where he spent 3 years travelling and painting. During the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 he visited family in New Orleans to escape the fighting.
  • In 1865 he exhibited one of his paintings at the important Paris Salon for the first time. Around the same time he became friends with the painter Edouard Manet and developed a friendly rivalry.
  • Although often described as an Impressionist painter, his style was different from that movement. However, he did help to organize several exhibitions of the Impressionists’ works, during the 1880s.
  • Over half of his paintings show ballet classes or ballerinas. The subject sold well and brought money in after his brother’s debts had made the family bankrupt.
  • Edgar Degas was influenced by Japanese prints, as well as the artists Delacroix and Courbet. Many of his paintings had unusual viewpoints or did not have a lot of colour in them.
  • Degas believed that a painter should have no personal life, and he was often lonely. He also had strong anti-Jewish feelings and fell out with his Jewish friends.
  • Edgar Degas died in 1917 at the age of 83. He was never married and he spent the last few years of his life wandering the streets of Paris, almost blind.
  • Today, Edgar Degas is one of the most famous 19th century painters.


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