I grew up with a print of Degas hanging on the living room wall but never really appreciated it or the artist and didn't understand why my mother had it. However like her i have now grow to realise what a fine artist he was and that this was much more than the ballet dancers he is best known for. Perhaps the painting also influenced me to buy an early work of Sherree Valentine-Daines of a ballet dancer or anther ballet dancer I bought at the Mall Gallery the other year.
Degas (1934 - 1917) is often referred to as an Impressionist, but his early works grew, in part, from the realism of such painters as Courbet and Corot. His scenes of Parisian life, and off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists, Mary Cassatt and Édouard Manet relate him to the Impressionist movement.
Degas provided an original observation of contemporary life. Racecourse and their riders, women at work, milliners and laundresses, Ballet La Source.
From 1870 Degas increasingly painted ballet subjects and paint café life and as his subject matter changed, so, too, did Degas's technique. The dark palette all evidence the influence that both the Impressionist movement and modern photography, with its spontaneous images and off-kilter angles, had on his work.
Place de la Concorde.
By the later 1870s Degas had mastered not only the traditional medium of oil on canvas, but pastel as well. The dry medium, which he applied in complex layers and textures, enabled him more easily to reconcile his facility for line with a growing interest in expressive colour.
By 1880, sculpture had become one more strand to Degas's continuing endeavor to explore different media, although the artist displayed only one sculpture publicly during his lifetime.Degas's only showing of sculpture during his life took place in 1881 when he exhibited The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years. A nearly life-size wax figure with real hair and dressed in a cloth tutu, it provoked a strong reaction from critics, most of whom found its realism extraordinary but denounced the dancer as ugly.
Degas began to draw and paint women drying themselves with towels, combing their hair, and bathing.
For all the stylistic evolution, certain features of Degas's work remained the same throughout his life. He always painted indoors, preferring to work in his studio, either from memory, photographs, or live models.