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Painter - Edgar Degas
A self-portrait created by Degas in 1855.

Painter - Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was a French artist and one of the founders of the impressionist movement. Born in Paris on the 19th of July 1834, he attended the Lycee Louis-le-Grand public school, before embarking on a career as a lawyer. In 1855 Degas gave up his law studies and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (school of fine arts) where he studied drawing. After his artistic education Degas travelled to Italy where he painted copies of works by the great Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian, .

Degas artistic career began well and he had his first exhibition in 1865. However, the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 and Degas joined the National Guard leaving him with him little time to paint.

After the war Degas produced some of his greatest works when he and some friends organised their own exhibitions. This group of artists was to become known as the Impressionists.

Later in his career Degas took up photography, taking pictures of nudes and dancers. He also photographed his friends including a portrait of fellow artist Renoir.

Degas was still working in his 70s but his eyesight had begun to fade. He never married and died in Paris on September 27th 1917, at the age of 83.

For a closer look at the pictures, please click on them to enlarge.
1.
Begun in 1858, The Bellelli Family is one of the earliest works Degas began - although it was not finished until sometime later. How many years did the painting take to complete?
5 years
7 years
9 years
11 years
The Bellelli Family was not finished until 1867 - 9 years after it was begun. The woman in the painting is Degas' aunt, Laura; the man is her husband, Baron Gennaro Bellelli; and the girls are their daughters and Degas' cousins, Giulia and Giovanna
2.
Painted around 1860, this piece depicts youths from an ancient Greek state enjoying physical activity. What is its name?
Young Spartans Exercising
Young Athenians Frolicking
Young Thebans Playing
Young Macedonians Leaping
The painting shows two groups; one of four women and another of five men. The women seem to be taunting or beckoning the men whilst a third group of youths look on. This third group seems out of place as they are clothed whereas the youths in the foreground are either naked or topless
3.
This painting, created around 1868, is of Degas' friend and fellow artist, together with his wife. What is the subject's name?
Henri Matisse
Claude Monet
Vincent Van Gogh
Édouard Manet
The two artists met by chance in 1862 and became lifelong friends.
The painting was slashed through the image of Manet's wife Suzanne, for reasons unknown. On seeing this, Degas demanded its return from his friend. He intended to repair the damage but never did. Today it can be found in the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Japan - still in its vandalised state
4.
Painted in France around 1876, this is a portrait of Degas' fellow artist Mary Cassatt. What nationality was she?
She was British
She was American
She was Dutch
She was Canadian
Mary Cassatt was from Pennsylvania, USA, but she spent much of her adult life in France. Here she befriended Degas and her works were displayed along with those of other impressionists
5.
This 1877 piece, Fin d'Arabesque is of a famous ballerina of the 1870s and 1880s who Degas painted several times. What was her name?
Genevieve Gosselin,
Rosita Mauri
Marie Taglioni
Fanny Elssler
Other works by Degas which feature Rosita Mauri include Danseuse sur la scene of 1878 and Ballet vu d'une loge de l'Opera of 1885
6.
Painted in 1879, Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando can be found in the collection of which London gallery, where it has been since 1950?
The Tate Modern
The British Museum
The National Gallery
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The painting is of a scene from the Cirque Fernando, a circus on the edge of Montmartre in Paris. It is still going today, although its name has changed to Cirque Medrano and it is now a travelling circus whose past performers include the silent film star, Buster Keaton
7.
A pastel on paper, rather than his more usual oil on canvas, what is the title of this picture created around 1881 as a part of Degas' ballerina series?
Waiting
Sitting
Crying
Aching
Degas made over 200 drawings, paintings and sculptures of ballerinas, and less than a quarter of them show the dancers performing. Waiting depicts a ballerina massaging her foot, but clearly nervous, before she goes out to perform
8.
A similar theme to the previous painting, the 1884 work Before the Race shows us a group of horses and riders preparing for their big moment. Horses were a popular theme with Degas - even more so than ballerinas. How many works did Degas create which featured horses as the main subject?
221 pieces
254 pieces
287 pieces
332 pieces
It is estimated that throughout his career Degas produced some 45 oils, 20 pastels, 250 drawings and 17 sculptures which were related to horses. Degas was said to have had a stuffed horse in his studio - though whether this is true or not is unknown
9.
Also known as A sketch of a French Café or Figures at Café, this painting is also known by the name of which alcoholic drink?
Cognac
Martini
Absinthe
Cointreau
Painted around 1876, the picture shows a man and a woman sitting in a café with a glass of the green liquor. It is thought that the man in the painting is the artist Marcellin Desboutin, and the woman (who does not seem delighted at the prospect of her refreshment!) is actress Ellen Andree
10.
Although primarily a painter and drawer, Degas was also a sculptor. This piece was created in 1881 and shows a dancer who is how old?
10 years old
12 years old
14 years old
16 years old
The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years is sculpted in wax and dressed in a real clothes. It also has a wig made from real hair.
28 bronze copies were cast after Degas' death and can be found on display in museums and galleries across the globe

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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