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Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Degas was born and died in Paris. He is buried at the cemetery of Montmartre. He entered the École des Beaux-Arts and visited Rome and Florence. From 1865 to 1870 he exhibited each year at the Paris Salon. He also exhibited with the Impressionists. Degas assimilated into his mature style English art and Japanese prints. He acquired his enduring reputation as a "painter of dancers" and also painted the café-concert, laundry women, bathers, jockeys and milliners. From the mid-1870's he worked with pastels. He was also a gifted sculptur. He struggled with failing vision and blindness at the end of his life.
Self-Portrait
Millinery Shop
Interior with Two Figures
After the Bath
Toilet of a Woman
Race Horses
Milliners

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Self-Portrait Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas
French, about 1857 - 1858
Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
8 1/8 x 6 1/2 in.
95.GG.43  

In this self-portrait a young Edgar Degas turns his head to look out at the spectator. He wears casual clothes, including an open collar and broad brimmed hat. The informal, extreme close-up view of Degas's face and his impassive, almost sullen expression echo the unpretentiousness of his clothing. The small-scale, informal presentation and lightness of touch emphasize the intimacy of this image and the still-tentative character of the young artist.

Around 1857, when he was twenty-three or twenty-four, Degas traveled to Italy, where he spent much of his time making copies after Renaissance masters. The period was one of self-education and he drew prolifically, writing in one of his notebooks, "I must thoroughly realize I know nothing at all; it is the only way to get ahead." Finding in himself a willing sitter, he made fifteen or more self-portraits in various media during his time in Italy.
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