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Edgar Degas Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas was born on July 19 1834 at 8 rue Saint-Georges in Paris His father Auguste a banker was French and his mother Clestine an American from New Orleans The family name Degas had been changed to De Gas by some family members in Naples and France in order to sound more aristocratic the preposition indicated a name derived from land holdings Degas went back to using the original spelling sometime after 1870 and that is how we spell his name today He was destined for a law career but instead entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he studies with Louis Lamothe There he became a painter and sculptor Degas was associated with the Impressionists taking an active part in there firsts exhibitions but his individual choice of subject matter handling of composition and emphasis of drawing distinguished his works from theirs He worked with a number of media oil pastel lithography engraving and sculpture From the mid-1850s through the mid-1870s Degas explored many types of subject matter He copied works by earlier artists and executed his own history paintings portraits and scenes of daily life Degas eventually ended his efforts at history painting and devoted more attention to portraiture turning images of relatives and friends into complex psychological studies His oils and pastels depict the inhabitants of the world of sports business ballet and the cafes in their self-conscious posturing and characteristic gestures He has numerous paintings of jockeys dancers laundresses and prostitutes Another favorite subject was a model at her bath Degas observation of movement resulted in the radical compositions that preserved the character of his subjects As Degas subject matter became more contemporary so did his artistic style Early on Degas presents people as individuals whereas works from the mid-1870s on categorize women in particular according to their professions The laundresses milliners and dancers represent types rather than specific individuals Degas handling
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