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Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas. Painter and sculpture 1834-1917. Edgar Degas. He was born on July 19th, 1834 into an affluent Paris banking family. As a young man, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. Degas, is considered as an impressionist. Before the Ballet 1890/1892, oil on canvas,

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Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas

Painter and sculpture1834-1917

edgar degas
Edgar Degas

He was born on July 19th, 1834 into an affluent Paris banking family. As a young man, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. Degas, is considered as an impressionist.

Before the Ballet

1890/1892,

oil on canvas,

National Gallery of Art, Washington

edgar degas3
Edgar Degas

Late in life, Degas began losing his eyesight, and with this loss resorted to a change of medium.

He began seriously to sculpt when he was in his early 40`s and, although he probably had no thought of exhibiting most of his sculpture, his modeling increasingly became a major part of his work.

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Sketching

Degas repeatedly sketched Marie van Goethem in preparation for making the sculpture. He drew her from every angle, circling around her to capture each look and gesture, posture, head and arm positions.

Edgar Degas,Three Studies of a Dancer in Fourth Position, c.1879/1880, charcoal and pastel with stumping, with touches of brush and black wash, on grayish-tan laid paper with blue fibers (discolored from pinkish-blue), laid down on gray wove paper, The Art Institute of Chicago

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In 1881, Degas shows eight works of art including the sculpture "Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen." The wax figure -- dressed in a muslin tutu, fabric bodice, real slippers, and a wig of real hair -- provokes tremendous controversy, inciting both violent criticism and fervent praise.

little dancer aged fourteen 1879 1881
Little Dancer Aged Fourteen1879-1881
  • Marie van Goethem
  • daughter of a Parisian laundress and tailor
  • one of the ballet "rats" at the Paris Opera.
  • For Degas, she represented awkwardness of youth and the graceful promise of a great ballerina.
  • she stands posed in a relaxed fourth position
  • her back arched
  • belly forward
  • hands clasped tightly behind her back.

Yellow wax, hair,various textiles, wood base99 cm (39 in.)National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

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At the time of his death his studio contained more than 150 wax models which he had made of dancing girls, race horses and women working or bathing.

With failing eyesight, sculpting became his principal medium of expression at the end of his career.

Never really successful in life, Degas was largely discovered as a master after his death in 1917.

Edgar Degas

The Dance Lesson

1879

oil on canvas

National Gallery of Art, Washington