Tag Archives: Impressionist Painters

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas

The French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is considered one of the founders of the Impressionist movement.

The Ballet Class by Edgar Degas

His father expected him to study law, for which Edgar had no enthusiasm. He dropped out of law school to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts. He intended to become a historical artist, and studied the classical techniques.

Dancers at the Barre pastel by Edgar Degas

Degas enjoyed going to the Louvre and copying the work of the masters. It was there that he is said to have met Édouard Manet, one of his influences. Soon he gave up painting historical scenes in favor of depictions of contemporary life. In 1868 painted his first painting with a ballet theme, a subject with which he will forever be identified.

Ballet Rehearsal by Edgar Degas
Ballet Rehearsal by Edgar Degas

In 1872 he visited relatives in New Orleans, and while there produced a number of paintings, including A Cotton Office in New Orleans.

A Cotton Office in New Orleans1873-Degas
A Cotton Office in New Orleans by Edgar Degas

Degas was an organizer of the Impressionist Exhibitions, eight art shows from 1874-1886 that showcased artists who were eschewed by the French Academy Salon. By then he was friends with a number of the Impressionists, including Mary Cassatt, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, and Édouard Manet, although he hated painting outdoors and considered himself a realist.

Dancer Taking a Bow by Edgar Degas

Perhaps one of his most famous works is his sculpture The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which critics proclaimed ugly. I’ve loved that statue since I first saw a picture of it when I was a freshman in high school.

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Edgar Degas

I is for Impressionism

I is for Impressionism

Impressionism was born in Paris in the early 1860s. It was a reaction against the realistic painting style of the time, which was almost photographic in quality, with a smooth texture, focused on details.

It could be said the Impressionists offered a new kind of realism. They took to the outdoors to paint, instead of making a sketch and bringing it back to the studio as a reference for a painting. This necessitated a different, quicker technique, where the texture of the brush strokes became part of the finished picture, and paint wasn’t allowed to dry before additional layers were applied.

Impressionist paintings are full of vivid color and light, even in the background.

Some leading Impressionists were Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-August Renoit.

Mary_Cassatt_In_the_box public domain

In the Box by Mary Cassatt


Dancer Taking a Bow by Edgar Degas


Boating by Edouard Manet


Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet


Hay Harvest at Eragny by Camille Pissarro


Two Sisters on the Terrace by Pierre-August Renoir