Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas (1834–1917) studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Despite a commitment to realism, his attentiveness to light leads modern scholars to classify him as one of the founders of impressionism. Attentive to the way light rippled across fabrics, he excelled at capturing movement, both on canvas and in bronze. His paintings of ballet dancers are among the most famous images of the nineteenth century. Degas believed an artist should be difficult, remote, and inaccessible, and cultivated a standoffish personality that repulsed most who came into contact with him. At the same time, for most of his life, he went to the opera house and ballet every week, looking for girls and young women to paint.