Edgar Degas Biography for Kids

Edgar Degas Biography for Kids

Edgar Degas Biography for Kids

Edgar Degas Biography for Kids
Edgar Degas Biography for Kids

Bon jour! This is the Edgar Degas biography for kids. I am Edgar Degas from France in the 1900s.

France
France

Yes, France in the 1900s, the time of the Impressionist Movement. The movement so named when a critic called our works “impressionism” because he thought our art works seemed more like sketches than finished paintings. The movement of “in plain air” or natural light. I suppose I am part of this movement but I differ from my colleagues in that I like classical themes and realism. Please call me a Realist!

Portrait of Rene Hillaire Degas (the Artist's Father) by Edgar Degas
Portrait of Rene Hillaire Degas (the Artist’s Father) by Edgar Degas

I mostly taught myself to paint, and I studied in Italy for a while as a young man. I studied the Old Masters like Rembrandt, for copying is the best way to learn! At first, I wanted to be a history painter, and I painted scenes such as Alexander and Bucephalus – you know, of Alexander the Great and his magnificent horse whom he named Bucephalus.

Alexander and Bucephalus by Edgar Degas
Alexander and Bucephalus by Edgar Degas

I exhibited at the Salon – you know, the French art show – for the first time in 1865, showing my Scene of War in the Middle Ages.

Scene of War in the Middle Ages - edited by Edgar Degas
Scene of War in the Middle Ages – edited by Edgar Degas

But then I met Edouard Manet, and he influenced me to try painting a different way.

Edouard Manet by Edgar Degas
Edouard Manet by Edgar Degas

I spent time in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States with my mother’s family, and you might recognize my painting from this time, A Cotton Office in New Orleans.

A Cotton Office in New Orleans by Edgar Degas
A Cotton Office in New Orleans by Edgar Degas
Cotton Merchant in New Orleans by Edgar Degas
Cotton Merchant in New Orleans by Edgar Degas

I became disgruntled with the Salon and joined the Impressionists in their exhibitions, even helping to organize most of the exhibitions. But I really had little in common with most of the Impressionists with all their “natural light” business. I like painting and using pastels…

Dancers in Pink by Edgar Degas
Dancers in Pink by Edgar Degas

and doing sculptures of dancers…

Fourteen-year-old Little Dancer by Edgar Degas
Fourteen-year-old Little Dancer by Edgar Degas

and theater.

Singer with a Glove by Edgar Degas
Singer with a Glove by Edgar Degas
Orchestra of the Opera by Edgar Degas
Orchestra of the Opera by Edgar Degas

Other impressionists need natural life. I, artificial life. I do not prefer landscapes.

Landscape with Rocks by Edgar Degas
Landscape with Rocks by Edgar Degas

But I do like portraits.

Self-Portrait Saluting 1866 by Edgar Degas
Self-Portrait Saluting 1866 by Edgar Degas
Portrait of Zacherie Zacharian by Edgar Degas
Portrait of Zacherie Zacharian by Edgar Degas

If I’m going to be outside I like the horse races…

Race Horses by Edgar Degas
Race Horses by Edgar Degas

or a café.

Women on a Cafe Terrace by Edgar Degas
Women on a Cafe Terrace by Edgar Degas

But I prefer to attend concerts …

The Cafe Concert by Edgar Degas
The Cafe Concert by Edgar Degas

and the circus …

Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando by Edgar Degas
Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando by Edgar Degas

and the theater…

Friends at the Theatre - Ludovic Halevy and Albert Cave by Edgar Degas
Friends at the Theatre – Ludovic Halevy and Albert Cave by Edgar Degas

and ballet at least 3 times a week.

Dancer with a Bouquet Bowing by Edgar Degas
Dancer with a Bouquet Bowing by Edgar Degas

I mostly go alone, for the artist must live alone, and his private life must remain unknown. It seems to me that today if the artist wishes to be serious… he must once more sink himself in solitude. But, oh how I love to paint ballet dancers!

Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers, the Star of the Ballet by Edgar Degas
Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers, the Star of the Ballet by Edgar Degas
Ballet School by Edgar Degas
Ballet School by Edgar Degas

People call me the painter of dancing girls. It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes. There is always so much energy and movement, and the dresses …

Dance Opera by Edgar Degas
Dance Opera by Edgar Degas

and tutus are such a wonderful subject for a painter’s brush!

The Star Dancer on Pointe by Edgar Degas
The Star Dancer on Pointe by Edgar Degas

I never feel like I am quite done with my paintings, either. I could add a bow here…

The Dance Studio by Edgar Degas
The Dance Studio by Edgar Degas

or a pot there…

Dancers Practicing at the Barre by Edgar Degas
Dancers Practicing at the Barre by Edgar Degas

At least half of my paintings are of dancers, you know!

Rehearsal by Edgar Degas
Rehearsal by Edgar Degas

I suppose it helps that they sell well, which has helped me pay of my brother’s scandalous debt and do all right for myself. I would paint dancers all my life except that my eyesight is failing. I have had to start using pastels instead of paint, and now my eyesight is getting so bad, I may only do sculpture.

Well, I don’t want you to remember me for that. Instead, remember this: I am Edgar Degas, who lived from the late 1800s into early 1900s. I am known for French Impressionism, (though I’d prefer to be thought of as a Realist), my paintings of dancers, pastels, and sculptures. Au revoir! Goodbye!

Check out the video too!

Edgar Degas Biography for Kids video on The Artist Detective

Resources:

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