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Edgar Degas dancers and dance at the centre of his works

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was born in Paris in 1834 into a very wealthy family and soon became interested in classical studies, to which his father added personally taught lessons in art and literature.

Painting soon fascinated him and he loved observing the works of the great painters of the past and copying them. Mantegna, Durer, Rembrandt, Goya fascinated him and made him forget his university studies of law, which he abandoned to devote himself to painting and drawing. He travelled to Italy and studied Japanese prints, which had become fashionable. In those years the great novelty of photography definitely convinced him that he could paint in a new way, detaching himself from the academic rules wanted by tradition, trying to capture moments and fixing them on the canvas.

From his studies of the Italian Renaissance by Raphael and Botticelli, Degas got to know Manet and the Impressionists, while remaining tied to theatrical or horse-related themes. Rather than landscapes, he prefers imaginary landscapes. And Degas dancers are often the favorite subject. Degas' dancers are an example of his realism and independence from any label, and despite this he joined the group of impressionist friends, fixing moments of life in his paintings. By Edgar Degas works such as "Proof of ballet", "Dancers". From 1974 to 1886 he devoted himself to Impressionist exhibitions, until by the end of the 1980s his sight worsened, perhaps because of a wound dating back to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 in which he took part. He continued to paint, especially dancers and nudes, and devoted himself to sculpture. He died at the age of 83 in Paris in 1917.

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The star

This painting by Degas dated 1878 is also known as "L'étoile". The protagonist of the opera is a dancer, one of Degas's favourite subjects, to whom...


Despite being an impressionist, Degas claimed that a "brushstroke" was not enough to give shape to things, but that the clear definition of the...


The original work is dated 1884-1885 and is now kept at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. A unique masterpiece and symbol of the classical period of...

Bowing Dancers

The original work by Edgar Degas is dated 1885 and it is kept in a private collection. “People call me the painter of dancing girls,” Degas told...