Edgar Degas and the Ballet Dancers
Posted on March 27, 2011 by Andy Renmei
In 1862, Degas met Manet (while copying a Velázquez in the Louvre) and this helped to bring about a decisive change of direction in his art. Manet introduced him to the circle of the young Impressionists and during the next few years he abandoned historical pictures and turned to contemporary subjects; they included scenes of the ballet and theatre, café interiors, laundresses at work, and women bathing—no other painter of his time portrayed such a rich variety of themes from contemporary urban society.
Ballet Rehearsal on Stage
As with the other Impressionists, he depicted the world around him in a fresh and informal way, and liked to give the suggestion of spontaneous and unplanned scenes, often using unfamiliar viewpoints or figures cut off as if in a snapshot (he was very interested in photography). However, the appearance of spontaneity was an appearance only; in reality his pictures were carefully composed. ‘Even when working from nature, one has to compose,’ he said, and ‘No art was ever less spontaneous than mine.’
Dancers in Pink
His failing eyesight and his use of pastel led to a broadening and blurring of form and the use of richer colour, with the somewhat ironic result that in the 1890s—by which time the Impressionist group had broken up—his work came closer in style to mainstream Impressionism than it had ever been before.
Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art