Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) was a French artist who is known for his paintings and sculptures. He is considered one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the label. Degas preferred to call himself a realist.

Degas was born in Paris, France, on July 19, 1834, into an upper-class family. His father, Hilaire De Gas, was a banker, and his mother, Célestine Musson De Gas, was an heiress. Edgar had two older sisters, Laure and Marie.

Degas showed an early interest in art and began to study painting at the age of eighteen. He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but he was unhappy with the school’s traditional approach to art. He also studied with the French history painter, Eugène Delacroix.

In 1855, Degas traveled to Italy, where he was greatly influenced by the work of the Italian Renaissance masters. He particularly admired the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Upon his return to France, Degas began to experiment with photography and the new medium of Impressionism. He was one of the first artists to use photography as a tool for creating art.

Degas was fascinated by the world of the theater and often included performers in his paintings and sculptures. He was also interested in the world of dance and frequently visited the Paris Opéra.

In his later years, Degas suffered from poor eyesight and withdrew from society. He died in Paris on September 27, 1917.

Degas was a highly original artist who created both traditional and innovative works of art. He is considered one of the finest artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.