Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, 1834 - 1917

portrait of Edgar Degas
Self-portrait, 1855

Born: 19 July 1834, Paris, France
Died: 27 September 1917, Paris, France

Born Hilaire Germain Edgar de Gas, his banker father having changed the family name from "Degas" to "de Gas" to suggest an aristocratic lineage, a pretense that Edgar did not maintain. He attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand from 1845 to 1853, then signed up to start copying art at the Louvre. His father insisted on law school but he didn't take those studies seriously. Two years later he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and continued to study by copying masters. Some sources suggest he copied over seven hundred works of the Italian Renaissance and French Classical periods. He is best known as one of the Impressionists, having been part of their first exhibition, but disliked the appellation and painted in other styles as well as sculpting. In 1870 he joined the National Guard and mounted the parapets with a rifle, but during training it was learned that his eyes were beginning to fail and he was nearly blind during his last years. The acid-tongued artist devoted most of his time to the life of Paris; theaters, dance halls, circuses, racetracks, and most of all, the ballet. He created about 1500 paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculptures of dancers.

Biography from Wikipedia and Biography.com

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