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Born Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas in Paris, he was the oldest of five children. Madame de Gas belonged to a French family that settled in America. Fond of his mother, her death in 1847 was a deep personal tragedy for Degas. His father, a banker, encouraged his son's artistic inclination. Degas received a classical education at Lycee Louis-le-Grand from 1845 to 1852, then studied law.

Degas' innovative composition, influenced by photography and Japanese woodblock prints called Ukiyo-e (Japonism), his skillful drawing, and perceptive analysis of movement made him one of the masters of progressive art in the late 19th century. He is especially known for his paintings of ballet dancers and other women, as well as of race horses.

Often considered an impressionist, some of his work shows classical and realist styles, and other times romanticism. In 1852 he transformed a room of the family home into a studio and worked under the tutelage of Felix Joseph Barrias. In 1855 Degas began study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Louis Lamothe, a disciple of Ingres for whom Degas would retain great respect. However, he found the course unprofitable and too restricting, and preferred independent study in the classical tradition.

So, he drew and painted copies of the old masters in the Louvre, a practice he continued for many years. He travelled throughout Europe to study the prints of Dürer, Mantegna, Rembrandt and Goya. ...

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