Born in Paris in 1834, Edgar Degas was one of the founding members of the Impressionist movement. He began his working life in law s his family wished but it was art that held his heart.
The best venue in Paris for Degas fans is the Musee d’Orsay which exhibits several of his most famous artworks including paintings and a sculpture of a young ballerina. In 1874 Parisian Edmond de Goncourt wrote in his diary that he visited the studio of a “strange painter called Degas… Out of all the subjects in modern life he has chosen washerwomen and ballet dancers… it is a world of pink and white… the most delightful of pretexts for using pale, soft tints.”
Degas frequented the gilded halls and working rooms of Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera. In those days wealthy patrons paid to hold a behind the scenes pass, often to ogle the young dancers. He studied their movement, drawing them as they rehearsed capturing everything in sketches. He also paid the ballerinas and students called ‘petit rats’ to pose for him in his Paris studio in Boulevard de Clichy.
A confirmed bachelor, Degas once said “maybe I too often look on women as animals”. He died wandering the streets of Paris in 1917.