French Artists

French Artists
  • Paul Cézanne
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Jacques-Louis David
  • Edgar Degas
  • Eugène Delacroix
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Claude Monet
  • Auguste Renoir
  • Nicolas Poussin
  • Henri Matisse
  • Antoine Watteau
  • Jean-François Millet
  • Charles Le Brun
  • Jean Fouquet

Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917)

Edgar Degas was a prominent French painter and sculptor born in Paris, on July 19, 1834, into an upper-class family. The artist, whose real name was Hilaire Germain de Gas, was the son of a banker. Originally having studied law, Degas was later permitted by his father to abandon his legal studies for art. He began studying a the École des Beaux-Arts, where he mainly copied 15th and 16th century masters. He continued copying art at the Louvre and also in Italy, where he had relatives.

Early on in his artistic career, Degas focused on portraits and historical subjects, however, he soon began looking at more contemporary subjects for his works. He was encouraged to do so by Édouard Manet, who also later introduced him to the group of artists later known as the Impressionists.

Among his favourite subjects were ballet dancers, women at their toilette, milliners, laundresses, racecourses, theatres, cafés, music halls, or boudoirs. Degas was set slightly apart form the other Impressionists in that he did not focus especially on light and atmosphere and also in that his primary subjects were always figures rather than landscapes. He also worked in the studio to finish his work, instead of out in the open as the Impressionists did, although he did make notes and sketches from living models.

Degas also added certain innovations into his work, influenced particularly by Japanese prints and by photography, bringing new interpretations of balance and angles into his paintings. As he grew older, his eyesight began to fail, forcing him to replace oil painting with pastels and charcoal.

When his father died in 1874, Degas was forced to help pay off unexpected debts and eventually make a living from his art. This was not a problem in the sense that Degas had received general acclaim by that time. In the past, however, he had been somewhat reluctant to part with his works. As his sight continued to worsen, he made sculptures from wax, which where cast in bronze after he died in Paris on September 27, 1917, at the age of 83.

Degas is remembered as one France's greatest artists and a master of modern 19th century art. He was to have a profound influence on future artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso.

A brief list of some of his works include:

  • Absinthe
  • The Rehearsal
  • Two Laundresses
  • Woman with Chrysanthemums
  • Foyer of the Dance
  • Bellelli Family
  • Russian Dancers
  • Ballet Rehearsal
  • Fin d’Arabesque