(b Paris, July 19, 1834; d Paris, Sept 27, 1917).
French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor, pastellist, photographer and collector. He was a founder-member of the Impressionist group and the leader within it of the Realist tendency. He organized several of the group’s exhibitions, but after 1886 he showed his works very rarely and largely withdrew from the Parisian art world. As he was sufficiently wealthy, he was not constricted by the need to sell his work, and even his late pieces retain a vigour and a power to shock that is lacking in the contemporary productions of his Impressionist colleagues.
The eldest son of a Parisian banking family, he originally intended to study law, registering briefly at the Sorbonne’s Faculté de Droit in 1853. He began copying the 15th- and 16th-century Italian works in the Musée du Louvre and in 1854 he entered the studio of Louis Lamothe (1822–69). The training that Lamothe, who had been a pupil of Ingres, transmitted to Degas was very much in the classical tradition; reinforced by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which he attended in ...