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Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

Date of Birth: 19/7/1834

An experimental French artist who was one of the founder members of the Impressionist group. Degas differed from painters like Monet and Renoir in preferring not to paint landscapes, and in making frequent references to the art of the past. Born in Paris into a moderately wealthy family he began to paint early in life. By the age of 18, he had turned a room in his home into an artist's studio, and in 1853 he registered as a copyist in the Louvre. Going against his father's wishes for him to study law, Degas was accepted into the cole des Beaux-Arts in 1855. After a study tour in Italy he exhibited works in The Salon and worked on several history paintings. After his father's death in 1874 he produced artwork for income to support his brother. He was fascinated by ballet, and many of his most famous pictures are of this subject the dancers, the rehearsals, the performances. He also loved horses and horseracing, and made many pictures of the races. Despite his differences with the Impressionists, Degas was a great believer in exhibitions controlled by the artists themselves, and he used the Impressionist exhibitions to showcase his work. As his reputation and financial state improved he began collecting works by artists he admired and experimenting in photography. He lived well into the 20th century but became reclusive due to his deteriorating eyesight. He died in 1917 at the age of 83. Degas was very experimental in his approach but his work was refined and he often reworked paintings years after he had begun them. Degas remains a popular artist today and his changing styles and subjects can be seen in collections around the world.

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Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas