Edgar Degas (July 19, 1834 - Sept. 26, 1917) holds a unique position in the history of art. In his works he combined the Classical emphasis on pure line and composition with the Impressionist use of bright colors and interest in scenes of everyday life. Degas achieved a novel freshness and immediacy by tilting the perspective in his paintings and by showing figures from unusual angles. He is especially famous for his pictures of ballet dancers.
The son of a prosperous banker, Degas originally intended to study law, but soon abandoned it for painting. Degas contributed to several Impressionist exhibitions, but he never considered himself an Impressionist and soon broke with the movement.
After 1886, Degas lived and worked in seclusion. As his eyesight began to fail, he turned from oil
painting to pastels. His pastel drawings are noted for their exceptional strength and brilliance of color.
When he was nearly blind, Degas created hundreds of sculptures, many of them statuettes of figures in motion.