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Edgar Degas and Impressionism

Edgar Degas and Impressionism

The impressionist age was a time of artistic rebellion to the common standards of art in late nineteenth century France. Rather than painting in the traditionalist fashion, focusing on exotic subject matter, powerful figureheads and historic scenes, impressionists painted everyday life as it was. The impressionists were known for using bright, unmixed colors to illustrate luminosity through texture. They opted for less detail in order to create an overall effect. "The impressionists allowed their brushstrokes to retain the liveliness and seeming spontaneity of a sketch." (Encarta 2001) A common technique they used called impasto used thick textural dabs of paint. This technique is seen in many impressionist paintings.

What would the impressionist age be without one of it's greatest, Edgar Degas? This leader in impressionism is characterized by his famous and influential paintings, reflecting the life and times of this era. The voyeuristic quality to his paintings gave a different angle to look from. This came along with the invention of the camera. Degas used the idea of cropping pictures and using levels to create a 3D effect, as well as incorporating asymmetrical balance. In addition, impressionist experimented with different mediums, in order to get their desired effect.

Hilaire Germain Edgar de Gas was born into a wealthy family on July 19, 1834. It wasn't until later on in life that he adopted his shortened name, Edgar Degas. His father was a banker who was also very interested in the arts, giving young Edgar the direction he needed by taking his to the art museums in Paris. He was devoid of bohemian values, a spreading epidemic among artists emerging at this time. When he was 18, his father provided him with a studio to pursue his career in art. Degas started off painting very traditionalistic pictures, eloquently copying famous works of the Old Masters in the Louvre. It was there that he met Manet, an impressionist who would soon come to introduce Degas to the changing world of art in Paris.

Manet was a very big influence on Degas. He brought him to meet his contemporaries Cézanne`, Renoir, Sisley, Monet, and Pisarro, as well as writers Emile` Zola and Edmund Duranty at the Café Guerbois in Paris where they met weekly and discussed art and the world around them. When Prussia moved in on France in 1870-1871 resulting in the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Degas as...

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