Edgar Degas



Degas's Timeline


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Written by Peter Imialek


1834 (birth) - Hillaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas (he will later abandon this pretentious spelling of the family name in favour of Degas) is born on July 19th in Paris, France, to Célestine Musson De Gas and Augustin De Gas, a banker.

1845 (age 11) - Degas begins his schooling in the Lycée Louis-le-Grand.

1852 (age 18) - By this time, Degas has turned a room in his family home into an artist's studio and has begun copying the masterworks in the Louvre. His father, however, expected him to study law.

1853 (age 19) - Degas graduates from the Lycée Louis-le-Grand with a baccalauréat in literature and in November registers at the Faculty of Law of the University of Paris.

1855 (age 21) - Degas meets Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, whom he revers. Ingres advises Degas to "draw lines, young man, many lines". In April Degas receives admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he studies drawing with Louis Lamothe.

1856 to 1859 (ages 22 to 25) - Degas travels to Italy in July of 1856 and remains there for three years. There he copies the works of masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. During this period Degas becomes accomplished in the techniques of high, academic and classical art.

1864 (age 30) - While copying in the Louvre, Degas meets Edouard Manet, who will influence his direction considerably.

1865 (age 31) - Degas exhibits his work for the first time at the Paris Salon, when the jury accepts his painting Scene of War in the Middle Ages.

1870 (age 36) - At the outbreak of the Franco-PrussianWar, Degas enlists in the National Guard.

1872 (age 38) - After the war, Degas travels to New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother René and a number of other relatives live. There he paints The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans, his only work to be purchased by a museum during his lifetime.

1873 (age 39) - Degas returns to Paris.

1874 (age 40) - Degas's father dies and it is revealed that his brother René has amassed substantial business debts. Degas sells his house and art collection to preserve the family name, and now depends on the sale of his artwork for income. He collaborated with a group of young artists to organize an independent exhibiting society. The group's exhibitions are dubbed the "Impressionist Exhibitions".

1886 (age 52) - The group holds its last exhibition and disbands. Degas rejected the label "Impressionist" that the press had created for the group and his insisting on including traditional artists in the exhibitions upset the other group members.

1912 (age 78) - Degas stops working after having lived an isolated life for nearly a decade.

1917 (age 83) - On September 27, Degas dies in Paris. He had outlived many of his closest friends and lived his last years in gloomy isolation.

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