Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. Degas is often considered one of the founders of the Impressionism Art Movement. He actually preferred to be called a realist and rejected his art as being categorized as Impressionist. Degas is most known for his intimate studies of dancers and his pastels, sculptures and paintings demonstrate his superb draughtsmanship, as well as his depiction of dancers’ movement.
As a young man his father wanted him to enroll law school, which he did simultaneously with his art drawing classes. He had always envisioned himself being a history painter but 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.
Degas refined his artistic skill by copying masters at the Louvre and eventually studying Renaissance artists in Italy. He did not gain much institutional notoriety for art during his lifetime but he did have some benefactors and was able to use the proceeds from his sales to buy other art. In fact, the only artwork to enter a museum during his lifetime was a painting of the Cotton Exchange at New Orleans that he did while living in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Regardless of his racism and the inability to classify him within a specific art category, Degas has cemented himself as one of the most important artists in Modern times and his auction results confirm that.