Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, better known as Edgar Degas, was born to Celestine Musson De Gas and Augustin De Gas on July 19, 1834 in Paris, France and died there on September 27, 1917 at the age of 83 years. He was one of the most famous French painters and is best known for his mastery over capturing movement as in dances, race courses, or the nudes. His favorite subjects were nudes, people, and dances. More than half of his work comprises paintings of dances, and they include some great paintings like: The Dancing Class, Ballerina, Dance Greenroom, Dance Foyer at the Opera, Danseuses, Ecole De Danse, Blue Dancers, Rehearsal of the Ballet on Stage, Danseuse Basculante, Fin D’arabesque, Two Dancers, Frieze of Dancers, Dancer in Green and others. He is known as one of the founders of Impressionism, but he preferred the term ‘naturalist’ for himself. He said about his work “My art has nothing spontaneous about it, it is all reflection.’ Human figures were his special subjects, and his paintings have an atmosphere of psychological complexities.
1. Fin d’arabesque
In 1877, Edgar Degas painted Rosita Isabel Armanda Mauri, who was also known as Roseta Mauri y Segura. The painting titled Fin d’arabesque is one of the famous paintings of Degas relating to dancing, his special area of interest. Edgar painted her many times in his paintings including,Fin d’arabesque, Danseuse sur la Scene, and Ballet vu d’une loge de l’Opera. Mauri wasthe daughter of a ballet master and choreographer. She started her dancing career in 1865 and became one of the best European ballerinas. After her retirement, she taught young dancers at the Ballet d’ Operas Class of Perfection from 1898 to 1920. Mauri was a bit quick but a warm-tempered person and, therefore, was liked by people. Many other artists had also preserved her image in their relevant fields. Denys Puech, Laurent Masrqueste, and Eusebi Arnau sculpted her. The famous photographer Nadar had photographed her many times.
2. A Cotton Office in New Orleans
In 1873, Degas painted A Cotton Office in New Orleans. He made it in the backdrop of the economic crash of the cotton brokerage business of his uncle. In the picture, Musson is seen checking the quality of raw cotton while Degas’ brother Rene was shown reading the newspaper, The Daily Picayune, which broke the news of Musson’s bankruptcy. Another brother of Degas was shown resting against a window wall. Degas made the painting initially intending to sell it to a British textile manufacturer, but after the decline in stock prices, the opportunities for its sale also declined. The painting was purchased by the newly founded Musee des Beaux-Arts in Pau, France in 1878. This was a turning point in the life of Degas as it brought him from obscurity to fame and prosperity.
3. The Bellelli Family
The Bellelli Family is an oil painting on canvas painted by Degas in his youth. The master painting portrays his aunt Laura Bellelli, her husbandBaron Gennaro Bellelli, and their two daughters,Giulia and Giovanna. His father’s sister, Laura, is seen in the mourning dress after the death of her father. Bellelli appears dignified while her husband appears to be isolated from the family, probably on account of his being more business focused. Giulia’s pose indicates her livelier personality.
‘Absinthe, meaning the ‘Absinthe drinker’ or ‘Glass of Absinthe,’ is one of the famous paintings of Edgar Degas. The painting was variously titled as A Sketch of a French CafÃƒ©, Figures at CafÃƒ©, and was finalized as L’Absinthe. The painting is on display at Musee d’Orsay in Paris. It was painted in 1875 and depicts a man a woman sitting to the right and a man in the center. The man is shown wearing a hat and looking to the right while the woman in formal dress and wearing a hat is seen gazing downward aimlessly. A glass, containing a green liquid, is positioned before her. The woman in the painting is Ellen Andree, and the man is Marcellin Desboutin. The painting depicts CafÃƒ© de la Nouvella-Athenes in Paris.
Interior, also known as The Rape, is Degas’ oil painting on canvas with a dimension of 81.3 x 114 cm. He painted it in 1869, and it is described as ‘the most puzzling of Degas’s major works.’ It shows a tense confrontation between a man and a woman in the lamplight. Degas exhibited the painting for the first time in 1905. The painting his not traceable to any historical background, but a few acquaintances of Degas mentioned Le Viol or Interieur as the inspiring sources. The painting is housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
6. Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde, also known as Ludovic Lepic and his Daughters, is Edgar’s 1875 oil painting. The painting depicts Vicomte Ludovic-Napoleon Lepic, his daughters, a dog, and a man in Place de la Concorde in Paris. In the background is shown the Tuileris Gardens. The painting was lost after the World War and was recovered after 40 years. The Russian authorities kept it in the Hermitage Museum. The painting was moved from the collection of Otto Gerstenberg to the Hermitage Museum.
7. Portraits at the Stock Exchange
Portraits at the Stock Exchange is Degas’ 1879 oil painting. The painting gives a vivid anti-Semitic impression or a feeling of hatred against the Jews in Paris. It was presumed that there was the hand of the Jews in a financial conspiracy that caused the bankruptcy of many people in the cotton business. Degas’ anti-Semitic feelings might have arisen from his own uncle’s bankruptcy. The exaggerated features and postures of the human figures are reflective of this hatred. The painting is on display in the Musee d’ Orsay in Paris. The psychological perspective of the painting is an atmosphere of isolation as seen in his other impressionist works.
8. La Toilette, Woman Combing Her Hair
La Toilette, Woman Combing Her Hair, is Degas’ 1886 pastel on paper. It is on display in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Degas started painting the nudes while drying themselves with towels, combing, or taking baths. The movements are captured skillfully with unparalleled, artistic beauty. All of his paintings had some common features like that he always painted indoors, preferably in his studio. His mastery was in that he created master paintings out of ordinary and day-to-day life activities.
9. Young Spartans Exercising
Young Spartans Exercising is an 1860 oil on canvas painting of Edgar Degas. The painting shows two groups comprising five, young males and four female Spartans. The young females seem to be taunting the men. The female figures are positioned to the left while the male figures are shown to the right, and between them there is a third group of viewers. The audience is shown wearing a full dress while the players are seen naked. Behind the viewers appears the mother of the children identified as Lycurgus. In the background is shown the city of Sparta and Mount Taygetus from the top of which the unfit children of Sparta were thrown into a ravine.
10. Before the Race
Before the Race is Degas’ 1884 oil painting. He started painting horses in the 1860s during his visit to his friends in Normandy. Since then, he created 45 oils, 20 pastels, and 250 drawings of horses. It is said that Degas had a full-sized, stuffed horse in his studio. He visited horse breeding farms with Paul Valpincon to have the first rate and closer ideas of the horses. He was impressed with horse movements and the colors of the jockeys’ uniforms. In his painting Before the Race, he has reflected both of these elements completely. The painting size is 26.4 cm x 34.9 cm, and it is on display in the Walter Art Museum in Baltimore.
Degas believed that ‘The artist must live alone, and his private life must remain unknown.’ He lived like what he believed in. Andrew Forge conclusively remarked that his works ‘were prepared, calculated, practiced, and developed in stages. They were made up of parts. The adjustment of each part to the whole, their linear arrangement was the occasion for infinite reflection and experiment.’ He captured not only the movement but also the physical features, reflecting the true, psychological state of his subjects. In his pastels Criminal Physiognomies that defined the juvenile gang members convicted of murder, he attended the trial with his sketchbook in his hands.
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