Edgar Degas was born in 1834 into an affluent Paris banking family. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he developed the great drawing ability essential to his style. After 1865, under the influence of the impressionist movement, he abandoned his academic subjects and turned to contemporary themes. He was uninterested in the study of natural light, which fascinated the impressionists. Attracted mostly by theatrical subjects, most of his work depicts theaters, cafes, music halls, racecourses or boudoirs. Degas’ preoccupation with the study of humanity, particularly women, is evident in his portraits as well as in his studies of dancers, laundresses and milliners.
Degas became interested in Japanese prints, which were very popular at the end of the nineteenth century. As he grew older, he turned to printmaking, pastels and sculpturing, often repeating the same subjects again and again in his pursuit of perfection. Concentrating on printmaking in the 1890s, his preferred female subjects were female nudes.
Degas served in the French army during the war with Germany in 1870 and 1871. Following the completion of his service, he began to experience a deterioration in his eyesight, until finally, he was unable to create paintings and prints. At this time, he turned his artistic creativity towards sculpture. When Degas passed away in 1917, he had completed well over 2000 works of art.