Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917) is renowned as a major Impressionist artist, celebrated for his depictions of Parisian urban life and his investigations of color, light, and composition in several mediums, such as painting, sculpture, and pastels. Degas was born Hiliare-Germain-Edgar Degas in Paris, and first studied law before pursuing art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1855. In the 1870s he joined the circle of Impressionist artists known for their animated, expressionistic brushstrokes and explorations of the temporal effects of light and color in painting. In addition to painting scenes of leisure activity and high society, Degas often depicted the poor and marginal in Parisian contemporary life, including images of prostitutes, laborers, laundresses, and young dancers. He frequently experimented with depicting movement, light, and the pictorial composition in new ways, often portraying his subjects at odd angles or abruptly cropping his scenes.

Beginning in the mid-1880s, his eyesight began to fail and he increasingly used pastel to create blurred edges and softer forms, used in several of his famous series of ballet dancers and female bathers. In the last decade of his life, Degas’ eyesight suffered to the point that he could no longer produce any work after 1912. Degas’ work gained increased critical praise towards the end of his lifetime, and he is now often considered one of the boldest and most innovative of his Impressionist contemporaries. Degas died in Paris in 1917, at 83 years old. His works are in the collections of prominent institutions around the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery and the British Museum in London, the Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel.

Timeline

1834
Born Hilaire Germain Edgar de Gas in Paris, France on July 19th
1855
Studied at the École des Beaux Arts, Paris, France
1856
Lived in Rome for 3 years
1861
Completed a few history paintings, including the Daughter of Jephthah
1862–1870
Painted portraits of his family and friends
1870
Served in the artillery during the Franco-Prussian War
1874
Stopped exhibiting at the Salon
1917
Died in Paris, France on September 27th

Exhibitions

2010–2012
Edgar Degas, The Private Impressionist, Works on Paper by the Artist and his Circle, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL, USA; Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME (solo exhibition)
2009
Edgar Degas Exhibitions in 2009:
Degas: master of French art, The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia (solo exhibition)
Edgar Degas. Intimity and Pose, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany (solo exhibition)
2007–2008
Degas in Bronze: The Complete Sculptures, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL, USA (solo exhibition)
2006–2007
Edgar Degas: The Last Landscapes, The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH, USA (solo exhibition)
2006
Degas at the Getty, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (solo exhibition)
2005
Degas at Harvard, The Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, MA, USA (solo exhibition)
2004
Edgar Degas Exhibitions in 2004:
Degas Sculptures, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA, USA; The Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID (solo exhibition)
Degas and the Italians in Paris, Edinburgh's Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, Scotland (solo exhibition)
Art in the Making: Degas, The National Gallery, London, UK (solo exhibition)
All 73 sculptures by Edgar Degas, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ (solo exhibition)
2003
Degas and the Dance, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA (solo exhibition)
2000
Degas Pastel Society: Eighth Biennial National Exhibition, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel, MS, USA (solo exhibition)
1996–1997
Degas: Beyond Impressionism, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; The National Gallery, London, UK (solo exhibition)
1979
Degas and the Dance, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, USA (solo exhibition)
1974–1975
Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA
1925
Edgar Degas Sculpture, Ferargil Gallery, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
1922
Exhibition of Bronzes by Degas, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
1905
Grafton Galleries, London, UK
1892
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
1886
Edgar Degas Exhibitions in 1886:
Works in Oil and Pastel by the Impressionists of Paris, The American Art Galleries; The National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA
8me Exposition de Peinture, 1 rue Laffitte, Paris, France
1881
6me Exposition de Peinture, 35 boulevard des Capucines, Paris, France
1880
5me Exposition de Peinture, 10 rue des Pyramides, Paris, France
1879
4me Exposition de Peinture, 28 avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, France
1877
3me Exposition de Peinture, 6 rue Le Peletier, Paris, France
1876
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, France
1874
Société Anonyme des Artistes, Paris, France
1870
The Salon, Paris, France
1869
The Salon, Paris, France
1868
The Salon, Paris, France
1867
The Salon, Paris, France
1866
The Salon, Paris, France
1865
The Salon, Paris, France

Public Collections

The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
National Gallery, London, UK
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Frick Collection, New York, NY
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, France
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Literature

1995
Callen, Anthea. The Spectacular Body: Science, Method and Meaning in the Work of Degas. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995
1992
Kendall, Richard and Griselda Pollock, eds. Dealing with Degas. London: Pandora, 1992
1988
Thomson, Richard. Degas: The Nudes. London: Thames & Hudson, 1988
1987
Lipton, Eunice. Looking into Degas: Uneasy Images of Women and Modern Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987
1984
McMullen, Roy. Degas: His Life, Times, and Work. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984