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  • Edgar Degas
    Jul 19, 1834 - Sep 27, 1917
  • Waiting - Edgar Degas was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers.
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  • Edgar Degas
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  • circa 1882
    Pastel on cream colored wove paper
    J. Paul Getty Museum, United States.

    "WAITING" IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE of Degas' originality in composing two figures into an arresting design. It is also another case of the story-telling picture without a story. A dancer in ballet costume and a woman in street dress are waiting, perhaps in the anteroom of the Opera. The woman draws aimless patterns with her umbrella on the parquet floor. The girl bends over, massaging her left ankle with her hand. With these simple means and by suggesting a blankness of space through the suppression of all detail, the artist has created an almost endless moment of boredom.

    The composition is contrived to emphasize the mood. The weary, bending form of the dancer is opposed to the patient, more erect and yet slumping figure of the woman. Both figures are on the left side of the bench, the diagonal fine of which is paralleled in the floor boards, and again emptiness on one side is balanced by fullness on the other. The round, curving lines of the girl are played against the angular outline of the woman, the charm of color in her costume against the snuffy black of her companion's.

    As Degas went further with pastel, he used it more frankly, allowing the strokes to show, using its sketchy lines to build a detail, or, as here, supply strong accents which gave the figures solidity and character.

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Other paintings by Edgar Degas:

The Dance Class
The Dance Class
The Rehearsal
The Rehearsal
Musicians in the Orchestra
Musicians in the Orchestra
After The Bath 1895
After The Bath 1895
Edgar DegasEdgar Degas As the son of a wealthy Parisian banking family, Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas originally planned to study law before opting to enter the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1855. His studies there strongly emphasized traditional drawing skills. Degas excelled and his extraordinary draftsmanship became a hallmark of his work. In 1856, Degas traveled extensively throughout Italy where he studied renaissance and classical masterpieces.

As a founding member of the Impressionists, Degas helped to organize the ground-breaking exhibition of 1874, exhibiting 10 of his own pieces in this inaugural show. While historically labeled an Impressionist, Degas preferred the term "Naturalist". He seldom painted en plein- air. Instead preferring to work from sketches and models. The artist once said: "My art has nothing spontaneous about it, it is all reflection." His studies frequently convey an element of psychological tension, offering the viewer intimate vignettes of life in late 19th century Paris. Fascinated with the movement of forms through space, Degas often sketched dancers from the wings of theaters, working in pastel and charcoal to capture his subjects with an unrivaled immediacy. Women dancing or merely engaged in the activities of daily life consistently his favored subject. Scholarship is currently divided as to whether Degas was a misogynist or an early feminist but the raging controversy has yet to dampen enthusiasm for the artist's work.

Degas liked photography so he painted similar to how a camera would capture a picture.