EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917): Together with Monet the founder of French Impressionism, Edgar Degas was famous for his innovative compositions in his paintings and later in his sculptures — including the Fourteen Year Old Little Dancer Statue at right. In his sculpture, he searched for “truth” — accuracy of movements and posture.
Degas created a tremendous amount of artworks. For an example, just with his ballerina images and sculptures, the surviving artworks total more than 1,500 plus in various stages of development (sketches, prints, monotypes, paintings, drawings and sculptures). For 10 years he sketched the young women training and then reused the sketches for new artworks during the next 40 years. The early rehearsal scenes were done in oil; and in 1878, he started using pastels for his dancers, nudes and horse-track scenes.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the style of grand history paintings esteemed by the French Salon. Over time, his interests drifted to more contemporary topics when he joined a group of artists painting scenes from every day life with an interest in studies of light, to be dubbed The Impressionists. Degas painted many studies of female stage dancers and ballerinas with an interest in capturing their private moments and feelings of isolation. Influenced by Japanese wood block prints newly imported to Paris, his paintings are characterized by dramatic perspective angles and large areas of color. In later years when his eyesight began to fail, he worked in sculpture completing his most identifiable statue Little Dancer of Fourteen Years (La petite danseuse de quatorze d’ans).