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Edgar Degas: The Unwilling Impressionist

Many call him an Impressionist, but only some know that he preferred to be called a realist.
Self-portrait (photograph), c. 1895. Image Source: Wikipedia

Edgar Degas was one of the most renowned French artists of his time, mainly known for his pastel drawings and oil paintings. His main obsession, for which he soon became famous, was drawing dancers, mainly ballerinas; more than half of his work was based on depicting dancers. Degas even produced quite a few sculptures during his lifetime.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Born in Paris, in 1834, Degas began painting early in his life and he loved to create sculptures or paintings which depicted dancers, which were actually very controversial during his time. Once, Degas put a real outfit of a ballerina on his most famous bronze sculpture, Little Dancer Of Fourteen Years, which came under a lot of criticism.

Many called him an Impressionist, but he preferred to be called a realist. It was mainly because he despised painting outdoors, en plein air, unlike other Impressionists. He preferred painting alone in his studio, where he could study his subjects, unlike other Impressionists who produced artworks spontaneously.

During the 1870s, Degas produced nearly 100 works of art. After the 1870s, Degas began to lose his eyesight. During this time, he produced an artwork, which is one of my favourites, Dancers in Blue. Degas drew this picture as an approach towards making something more innocent. Evidently, Degas captured the moment when the ballerinas were practicing for their performance.

One of the most admirable thing about Degas, according to me, was his love for art, that he kept on painting even after losing his eyesight. In 1917, Degas died of a brain aneurysm leaving behind a legacy for millions.


©Aaira Goswami, 2020. All rights reserved.


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