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Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 - 27 September 1917)

He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist. He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his rendition of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.

At the beginning of his career, Degas wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.
A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?)
106 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2

The Dancers

About 1900 Degas revised a painting (Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zürich) that he had made some twenty years earlier. This pastel, which reprises the composition, may well have been created during the mo... more

Two Dancers, Half-length

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Edgar Degas at the age of 72

Paul Paulin (French, Chamalières 1852–1937 Paris)

Head of a Saint (profile to the right), after Fra Angelico

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Woman Drying Her Arm

This pastel is one of eighteen variants on the composition that Degas made in the late 1880s and early 1890s, a testament to his fascination with replicating and multiplying images. He also repeated forms withi... more

Self-Portrait

At the start of his career, Degas produced some forty self-portraits in various media. This likeness dates to about 1855–56, when the young artist quit his formal training at the École des Beaux-Arts and set of... more

Italian Woman

Attributed to Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Study for Vieille Italienne(recto); Drapery Study (verso)

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Greek Landscape

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Sportsman Mounting His Horse

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Study of a Draped Figure

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Engraver Joseph Tourny

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Dante and Virgil

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Self-portrait

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Engraver Joseph Tourny

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Edgar Degas: Self Portrait

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Self-Portrait

Degas portrayed his aloof, slightly pouty, patrician features a number of times in the course of his career, particularly as a young man. This early example, executed when the artist was little more than twenty... more

The Engraver Joseph Tourny

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Youth with Arms Upraised

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Youth in an Attitude of Defense

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Young Woman with Ibis

Degas made sketches of this composition in a notebook he used during his second stay in Rome in 1857–58. Originally conceived as a depiction of a pensive woman, the picture assumed a mysterious air when Degas a... more

Study of a Girl's Legs for the painting "Young Spartans"

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Edouard Manet, Bust-Length Portrait

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Édouard Manet Seated, Right Profile

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?)

The juxtaposition of the prominent bouquet and the off-center figure, gazing distractedly to the right, exemplifies Degas’s aim of capturing individuals in seemingly casual, slice-of-life views. The sitter is p... more

Portrait of a Woman in Gray

This beguiling sitter is depicted as if in a transitory moment, seemingly about to rise from the sofa, a slight smile on her lips. Degas rarely painted a face that reflects such good humor and calm. The woman i... more

The Collector of Prints

In this scene, cheap, outmoded prints—colored lithographs by the flower painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté—are coupled with a fashionable Tang dynasty horse and Japanese fabrics pinned on the bulletin board to typif... more

James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot (1836–1902)

The fashionable painter James Tissot was Degas’s friend and mentor in the 1860s and early 1870s. Posed in a studio, top hat and satin-lined cape by his side, Tissot is surrounded by canvases that reflect the wi... more

Mademoiselle Marie Dihau (1843–1935)

Marie Dihau was a successful pianist and singer who lived in Lille but often came to Paris to perform. She recalled that Degas executed this portrait quickly at a restaurant. Shown in sharp profile, wedged betw... more

A Jockey on His Horse

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Study for Mme Théodore Gobillard

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Study for "Mme Théodore Gobillard" (née Yves Morisot)

Degas made this portrait sketch of the older sister of fellow painter Berthe Morisot (1841–1895) in the living room of the family home in Paris. Letters between the Morisot sisters and their mother recount its ... more

Madame Théodore Gobillard (Yves Morisot, 1838–1893)

Berthe Morisot's eldest sister is shown in the living room of her family's house in Paris in this unfinished portrait by Degas. Preceded by several preparatory studies, including two drawings and a pastel, whic... more

Madame Théodore Gobillard (Yves Morisot, 1838–1893)

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Dancing Class

This is Degas's first depiction of a dance class. Because the artist did not yet have privileges to go backstage at the Paris Opéra, his subjects came to his studio to pose. These sessions yielded many large st... more

The Ballet from "Robert le Diable"

When Degas made this picture in 1871, Giacomo Meyerbeer’s opera Robert le Diable was forty years old and feeling its age—as reflected by the man at center, indifferent to the action and directing his binoculars... more

Seated Dancer

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Artist's Cousin, Probably Mrs. William Bell (Mathilde Musson, 1841–1878)

The sitter for this likeness is thought to be Mathilde Musson, one of Degas’s cousins in New Orleans. Degas made a number of pictures featuring Mathilde and her two sisters when he visited the family during the... more

A Woman Ironing

Much as Degas was fascinated by the movements of dancers, he was also intrigued by the repetitive, specialized gestures made by laundresses as they worked. This painting, the first of three versions of the comp... more

Study of a Ballet Dancer (recto); Two Studies of Dancers (verso)

This drawing is associated with a larger group of studies, dated about 1873, made for Degas’s famous paintings of ballet dancers. The confident free brushstrokes, virtuoso depiction of a shadow in front of the ... more

Dancer Adjusting Her Slipper

Between 1873 and 1874, Degas made several studies of dancers adjusting their shoes, shown in different poses and from different angles. These drawings served as preparatory studies for his ballet scenes of the ... more

The Dance Class

This work and its variant in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, represent the most ambitious paintings Degas devoted to the theme of the dance. Some twenty-four women, ballerinas and their mothers, wait while a dancer e... more

The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage

There are three similar versions of this scene, and their precise relationship has bedeviled scholars for decades. The largest, painted in grisaille (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), appeared in the first Impressionist e... more

Woman on a Sofa

This seems to be an independent work that was developed in two stages. It probably began as a pencil drawing on a smaller sheet of paper that was enlarged by adding strips of paper at the bottom and sides. Dega... more

Study of a Ballet Dancer seen from the Back

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Jet Earring

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Fireside

As Degas strove to represent the female body with greater truth, women engaged in the intimate rituals of both the bath and the brothel became his frequent themes. During the 1870s, when novels by J.-K. Huysman... more

On Stage III

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Girl Putting on Her Stockings

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Dancer Onstage

Shortly after it was completed about 1877, Degas gave this picture to Alexis Rouart and his wife. Rouart was an old friend and former schoolmate, but Degas was even closer to his brother Henri, an amateur paint... more

Two Dancers in a Rehearsal Room

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Factory Smoke

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Dancer on pointe

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Portraits at the Stock Exchange

This study for an oil painting by Degas of 1878–79 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) depicts the financier and collector Ernest May (1845–1925) under the portico of the Paris stock exchange. At the time, May was in his ea... more

Little Girl Practicing at the Bar

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Three Dancers Preparing for Class

The seated dancer in this pastel was derived from a study dated December 1878 of the fifteen-year-old Melina Darde. That drawing and those which explored the poses of the two dancers in the foreground belonged... more

Head of a Horse

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Bookshelves, Study for "Edmond Duranty"

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

At the Café des Ambassadeurs

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Head and Shoulders of a Young Woman in Profile I

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Leaving the Bath

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Dance Lesson

Degas made various adjustments to this composition, presumably to accommodate the violinist in his final design. He added strips of paper at the top and to the right, and there is evidence to suggest that he ma... more

Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Etruscan Gallery

Among the most technically complex of Degas' prints, this view of Mary Cassatt and her sister in the galleries of the Musée du Louvre was intended, like Pissarro's Wooded Landscape at L'Hermitage, Pontoise (21.... more

Head of a Woman in Profile

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Two Dancers

Marie van Goethem, who posed for Degas's sculpture The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, was the model for these two fine studies of a dancer adjusting her shoulder strap. Degas often used commercially coated pa... more

Seated Woman in Bonnet and Shawl

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Leaving the Bath

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Fan Mount: Ballet Girls

In 1879, when Degas created this work, he was organizing a gallery at the Salon des Indépendants devoted to the painted fans of Félix and Marie Bracquemond, Jean-Louis Forain, Morisot, Pissarro, and himself. Ca... more

The Actress Ellen Andrée

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Dancer with a Fan

This study is for the central figure in Degas's Dancers in the Classroom of about 1880 (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.). In the present drawing, the dancer is at least twice as l... more

Dancer

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

At the Milliner's

Two customers in nearly identical dresses—perhaps a mother and daughter or two sisters—are seen from behind in a millinery shop. This pastel may have been conceived originally as a picture of a shopgirl (at lef... more

Album of Forty-five Figure Studies

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Dancers in the Rehearsal Room with a Double Bass

Degas used an elongated frieze format for more than forty rehearsal scenes made over the course of two decades. This is one of the first such works; it was preceded by The Dance Lesson (ca. 1879, National Galle... more

The Milliner

Degas’s images of milliners often present witty formal analogies between women and the hats they sell or admire. In this pastel the visual pun is unmistakable. Degas compares the young shopgirl—who resembles Ma... more

At the Milliner's

Mary Cassatt was the model for the customer in this work and also for another in the milliner series (Museum of Modern Art, New York). She purportedly said that she posed for Degas "only once in a while when he... more

Dancer in Green

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Portrait of Hortense Valpinçon (Mme. Jacques Fourchy)

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Bather Drying Herself

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Bather Sponging Her Knee

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

The Singer in Green

A sale catalogue of 1898 evocatively described the performer pictured in this pastel: "Skinny and with the graceful moves of a little monkey, she has just sung her ribald verses and, with a gesture that conceal... more

Woman Drying Her Foot

In this pastel and another of 1885–86 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Degas explored the expressive potential of a bather doubled-up, snail-like, drying her foot. The blue, yellow, and green harmonies in the two works a... more

Race Horses

Degas undertook racing scenes throughout his career, characteristically manipulating his horses and jockeys from one picture to the next. All the figures here appear in earlier works, and some of the poses have... more

Woman Having Her Hair Combed

No doubt Degas intended to include this work in the 1886 Impressionist exhibition among the nudes he described in the catalogue as "women bathing, washing themselves, combing their hair or having it combed," si... more

Woman Combing Her Hair

This is the second of two variants of a composition that Degas created about 1885 (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). In this version, he used a new technique, applying pastel in so many successive layers... more

Dancers, Pink and Green

The heavily impastoed surface suggests that Degas worked directly and extensively on this picture, building up passages of oil paint with brushes and his fingers. By mixing his colors with white to make them op... more

Bather Stepping into a Tub

Degas’s interest in the motif of a nude entering the water apparently dates to his student days, when he copied the figure of a man scrambling over a riverbank from an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi after Mi... more

After the Bath III

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Nude Woman Standing, Drying Herself

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

[Self-Portrait with Christine and Yvonne Lerolle]

While Degas was aware of photography from the beginning of his career, he did not take up the medium until 1895, when he embraced it with great enthusiasm. By then, the motifs in his paintings and pastels-dance... more

The Bath

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

[Self-Portrait with Zoé Closier]

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Paule Gobillard, Jeannie Gobillard, Julie Manet, and Geneviève Mallarmé

After having made the majority of his paintings and experimenting with pastel and monotype, Degas briefly turned to photography in late 1895. "Ablaze with enthusiasm," he enlisted his friends as models and app... more

[Self-Portrait in Library (Hand to Chin)]

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Daniel Halévy

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

View of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme

Degas’s provençal painting of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, a medieval town on the Picardy coast northwest of Paris, surveys the site from an elevated vantage point, lending a view of rooftops and façades as well as ... more

Street Scene, La-Queue-en-Brie (Val-de-Marne)

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Russian Dancer

In 1899 Degas produced a series of compositions devoted to Russian dancers in which he fused color, line, and interlocking forms to create tapestry-like pictures. Degas called them his "orgies of color." This f... more

Russian Dancers

Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)