Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas (actually de Gas), born in Paris on July 19, 1834, is regarded as one of the most significant French artists of the 19th century. The painter, graphic artist and sculptor came from a well-to-do banker family and decided already as a student to pursue an artistic career. Degas began his apprenticeship in the studio of Ernst Louis Barrias and later studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Louis Lamothe, a student of Hippolyte Jean Flandrin and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
Beginning in 1856, he regularly spent several months in Italy, where numerous sketches and studies emerged in the classical tradition. After returning to Paris, Edgar Degas worked primarily in the genres of history painting and portrait art, borrowing from the work of Ingres.
In 1862, he met Édouard Manet in the Louvre, and in the same year, Edgar Degas painted his first horse race after a stay in Normandy. From the year 1867 on, the artist found his subjects primarily in the theater, in ballet, at the races or in pressers or women at their toilette. In October 1872, Degas went to New Orleans and visited both his brothers there.
After his return to France, the paintings "Ballet Studio at the Opera in the Rue Peletier" (1872), "The Dancing Class" (1874) and "Absinth" (1876), among others, appeared, which are all now in the Musée National du Louvre in Paris.
Although he did not consider himself an Impressionist, he nevertheless participated in exhibits together with them, for example also with sculptures such as the statuette "Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer" from 1881 (now in Paris, Musée National du Louvre), a bronze with a ruched dress made of real textile material.
After 1885, Edgar Degas painted primarily in pastels, in which he accentuated delicate colors through strong ones and in this way achieved new effects. This mixing technique can with certainty be traced to his impending blindness. A few stays abroad followed until finally in 1893 he retreated entirely from public life for health reasons.
The passionate hobby photographer captivated everyday moments on canvas in his paintings that appeared improbable, in atmospheric color tones as the center of the picture, and thus gave the observer the possibility to participate in moments of the most intense intimacy.
On September 26, 1917, Edgar Degas died in Paris at the age of eighty-three.