By Lon Levin

Degas painting of ballerinas

Happy 177th Edgar! One of the finest draftsmen and painters to ever live. His skill was awesome and he and his fellow impressionists freed us from the stogie confines of classical painting. A little history…

Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917), born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (pronounced [ilɛʀ ʒɛʁmɛ̃ ɛdɡɑʀ dœˈɡɑ]), was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are considered to be among the finest in the history of art.

Early in his career, his ambition was 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.