May 13, 2009

First Impression # 4 - Answer

And the mystery impressionist is…

No real mystery at all. Everybody who played along got the right answer. Edgar Degas born Paris, July 19, 1834 - died Sept. 27, 1917. Edgar Degas, click for pronunciation, was a French painter, sculptor, pastel artist, photographer and art collector. Although lumped with the Impressionists because of his scenes of the fleeting moments of contemporary life, he surpassed them in composition and draftsmanship. His results tended towards Realism.

The son of a wealthy banker, (they all seem to have wealthy fathers) he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in 1855. Degas painted portraits of his friends and family until 1870, when he served in the artillery of the National Guard during the Franco-Prussian War. Following his enlistment he visited family members in New Orleans who were in the cotton business.


Degas was introduced to Impressionism through Manet and turned to the fast-paced city life of Paris for his inspiration. Unlike other Impressionists, such as Monet, Degas had no interest in the plein-air study of nature, preferring urban subjects particularly the ballet, theatre, circus, racetrack, and cafés. Degas was interested in picturing people absorbed in the practiced movements of their occupations. While this bourgeois world interested him Degas sometimes depicted squalid scenes such as in Absinthe (1876).



From the mid-1870s Degas began to suffer from failing eyesight. He worked increasingly in pastel and in his later years, he abandoned oil completely in favor of pastel, which did not demand such acute eyesight.


In the 1880s Degas modeled wax figures, which cast in bronze complemented his interest in horses and the dance.


Despite Degas organizing several of the Impressionists exhibitions, he all but withdrew from the Parisian art world. Degas stopped exhibiting at the respected Paris Salon in 1874 and displayed his works with other, less-established Impressionists until 1886. After 1886 Degas rarely showed his works.

The new medium of photography interested Degas. In the 1890s when amateur photography was in full-swing, Degas began taking photos with a passion. Only a small and unrepresentative fraction of Degas' photographs are known. He made about 60prints over a brief two year period (1895-6)

From the 1890s on Degas became increasingly miserly and more reclusive. In the last years of his life he was almost totally blind and wandered aimlessly throughout the Paris streets. When the curmudgeonly Degas died in 1917 at age 83 he left behind some 2,000 paintings and 150 sculptures.

9 comments:

Poetikat said...

Interesting, hearing the correct pronunciation since there is that tendency to say, "Day Gah", isn't there? I suppose it makes sense when we leared that de was duh (from). Very good.

Kat

Sandra Leigh said...

How interesting - I came late to this party, so I'll have to go back and check out the series. btw, I snagged the link to your pronunciation guide, which promises to be very useful.

Brian Miller said...

nice piece. like the ballet pics. makes me think of my wife.

rosedale's 4 head said...

the ballerina piece is so amazing...how do artists do that...? and i thought i had patience when crocheting a bootie...these are lovely....

Ima Wizer said...

Heavens! I hadn't a clue who this was and he is one of my favorites! I have four books about Degas....go figure (no pun intended). Wonderful post, by the way!

Karen said...

I do love his work. I will always connect his ballerinas with my primary school, where several prints hung in the corridors.

Polly said...

I love Degas. I've got this great book Degas and the Dance that show so much of his work. I especially love his dancers, caught at different angles, although his interest in them is slightly disturbing

willow said...

Oh, I really like this last piece! I don't think I've seen it before. Excellent post, Hazel.

sallymandy said...

Hi CP: Lovely post about Degas. I learn a lot here, so thank you. It was especially fun to read it while listening to the clip of Tafelmusik. I enjoyed envisioning you in your velvet coat, LL Bean pants, and up-do with the VIPs at the concert. (Did you exfoliate first? That was hilarious.)

I'm behind in my blog visiting, but enjoying catching up at the CP. ♥