Dance is the subject that he is particularly known for, with more than half of his works depicting dancers. Although Degas is one of the founders of Impressionism, he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist.
Degas was born in Paris, France, into a relatively wealthy family. As the oldest of five children, Degas painted early in life. He received a baccalauréat in literature in 1853 at the age of 18, and then turned a room in his home into an artist's studio. Even though his father wanted him to go to law school, Degas registered as a copyist in The Louvre Museum upon graduation.
He moved to Italy for several years and then returned to France in 1859. He moved into a studio large enough so that he could paint on very large canvases.
In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began; and Degas enlisted in the National Guard. His involvement in the National Guard left him little time for painting. During rifle training, his eyesight was found to be defective, and for the remainder of his life his eye problems worried him constantly.
In 1872, Degas moved and stayed for an extended period of time in New Orleans, Louisiana. His brother René and a number of other relatives lived in Louisiana at the time.
The following year, Degas returned to Paris. His father died in 1874. At that point, he learned that René had significant business debts. To preserve his family's reputation, Degas sold an art collection that he had inherited and his home. With the money he earned, he used it to pay off his brother's debts. Degas was now dependent for the first time in his life on the sale of his artwork for income. Because of this, he produced much of his greatest work during the decade starting in 1874
By the late 1860s, Degas began painting his observations of contemporary life. He enjoyed painting racecourse scenes - including horses and their riders. He painted women at work, especially milliners and laundresses. It also was during this period of time that he began to paint dancers.
Sophia and Olivia studied six paintings done by Degas. After looking at them for a period of time, they recalled the images they saw with as much detail as possible.
The Dance Class
- In the part of the photo that you can, there are 17 ballet dancers. Some of them are practicing their dance moves while others are standing watching or waiting. A few of them are talking their mothers.
- All of the girls are wearing tutus that appear mostly white.
- They all have their hair up. Some are adorned with flowers.
- A few of them have chokers around their necks and bracelets.
- They all have pink dance shoes.
- The dance studio is mostly green with a wooden floor and a large mirror on one wall that reflects some of the scenery outside and some of the dancers.
- In the corner, there is a music stand with some sheets of music and a bass laying on its back.
- There's an older man with a walking stick watching the girls dance. He could be a parent or the girls' dance instructor.
- One of the girls who is waiting is biting her nails.
- There a bunch of ballet dancers and they are all wearing the same outfit.
- In the back there are bunch of people who look like the parents of the dancers.
- In the front, there is a group of four dancers and two of them look like they are practicing and one looks like she is biting her fingernails.
- By the feet of the four dancers, there is a cello or bass next to the music stand. It is laying down on the ground.
- On the wall, there is a mirror and there are dancers practicing in front of it.
- Next to the mirror, there looks like there is a door. There is also a poster by the mirror.
- The dancers look like they are getting ready for a recital.
- There is a man with a walking stick wearing a white suit who is watching them.
- The walls are green.
- The dancers are wearing white outfits with pink ballet slippers; and their hair is all pulled up and some of them have flowers in their hair.
- The floor is made out of wood.
Danseuse au Bouquet
- This picture is in the perspective of perhaps an audience member or parent.
- From their perspective, you can see part of the stage with groups of dancers on it.
- A little to the left and further back of the stage, there are seven girls in blueish tutus with black ribbons around their necks who are standing in a line.
- Behind them and more centered are a group of six dancers whose tutus have orange and yellow hues with bright red and white flowers in the skirts.
- The main dancer of the moment is wearing a white tutu with yellow and orange flowers in it, and a black ribbon around her neck and flowers of the same color in her hair.
- All the dancers have brown hair that is either pulled off their faces or partially pulled up.
- From your perspective to the right, there's another audience member who is a woman who has a large black fan with lace on top. She has red hair and a beautiful blue and silver earring.
- The backdrop is mostly greens and it is a wooden floor.
- There are dancers who are kind of in a line - there are two lines. In the back there is a group of dancers who are wearing orange dresses.
- To the left, there is a line of dancers and they are all wearing blue dresses.
- There is a dancer in the front who has a white dress and it looks like she is bowing to the crowd that you can't see.
- To the right, you see a fan and there is a woman holding it.
- I think you can also see another fan that is white. It has purple and red on it.
- The woman holding the other fan - the black fan - has earrings that look that they are made out of diamonds and sapphires. It looks like she's also wearing a diamond necklace.
- She looks like she is watching the show that the dancers just finished doing.
- On the stage next to the dancers who are wearing blue you can see a wood thing that is standing up - like it is pretending to be shrubs or trees.
- All the dancers have flowers in their hair.
- In the back, you can see the sky and the painted ground that they are using as a backdrop.
- The venue is the green countryside that is open and has a few green trees in the distance.
- There are lots of horse races going on.
- Further away in the distance, you can see tents and large crowds of people.
- Closer to you, there is a horse race going on between a brown horse and black horse. The black horse is winning.
- There are a few people who are around them that are watching and they are on horses, except one man who is on a cart.
- At the right, there is a black, topless buggy that is drawn by two horses - one black and the other brown. The brown horse has a pink flower in its mane by its ear.
- In the driver's seat there is a brown-haired man wearing a gray suit, black tie, and black top hat who is holding a whip and is turned back to look at the two women in the buggy.
- Next to the man, there appears to be a black dog sitting backwards on the seat.
- In the back of the buggy, there are two women. One appears to be a nanny because she has a white apron on and has plainer-looking clothes. She is holding a baby wearing a white bonnet and clothes.
- Next to her is a woman holding a parasol that has brownish-black hair and is wearing a yellow dress with yellow hair accessories.
- The sky is a light blue with peachy clouds covering most of it.
- You see some horses in the distance that are racing.
- You also see two wooden stakes - I think they indicate the finish line.
- To the right, you see a carriage and there are two horses - a brown and black ones.
- In the carriage, you see a man in the front with either a cat or dog; and in the back you see two women and one is holding a parasol and the other is holding a baby.
- To the left, you see a man sitting in a smaller carriage; and you can see the horse's back legs.
- Way in the far distance you can see a bunch white barns or buildings.
- You can also see some trees in a hill.
- The sky is full of clouds and you can see a little bit of the blue sky.
- The race - there are three horses - two are brown and one is black. The black one looks like it is going to win.
- There are some horses that look like they are waiting to race.
- There is a lake or pond near the buildings.
- In the picture, the main focus is on a ballerina with black hair. She is wearing a large white tutu with a low-cut bodice. She is also wearing white tights and slightly-pointed white shoes or slippers.
- Her hair is pulled up and the top of her head is adorned with flowers - red, orange, yellow, and white...a variety.
- She also has flowers trailing down the front of her bodice that are the same color as the ones in her hair - except the white.
- On her left hand, she has a single bracelet. On her right hand, she has a couple of bracelets.
- She also has a black ribbon tied around her neck. The ends of it are kind of floating free.
- She appears to be dancing outside next to perhaps a yellow hayfield, but it could be a set. You can see blue sky...so I don't know.
- There are a couple other people in the background - a couple of girls in white dresses, a girl in a golden dress that almost matches the background, and a man in black (but I'm not 100% sure).
- The ballerina is one foot. She's doing an arabesque.
- Her face shows that she is enjoying what she is doing and is confident in the knowledge that she is good at it.
- She has slightly-puffed sleeves that are the same color as her dress.
- She could be dancing by a hayfield or maybe a forest because there's green at the top.
- There is one ballerina is in the middle. It looks like she is in a cave because it doesn't look like a stage and what should be curtains looks like plants.
- In the back, it looks like it is snowing outside and there's a barn.
- To the side - like hiding in the curtains - are some ballerinas and a man.
- The ballerina in the middle, she has flowers on her skirt and in her hair that makes it look like she is wearing a crown.
- There's a dove flying by her.
- To the left in the corner, there is white stuff that looks like light.
- She looks very happy and relaxed.
- Her clothes are just white. She's wearing a tutu.
- It looks like she is wearing shoes.
- In the picture, there is a woman sitting on a chair...well, sitting...next to a table or bureau at her right elbow.
- She is leaning on it a little and is examining a hat that is in her hands. The hat has a variety of shades in it: light pink, reddish-orange-burgundy color, and red. On top, it looks like there's some sort of orange-ish topper.
- The woman has auburn-reddish hair....darkish red hair; and kind of a pale face. She has lipstick on and she is wearing a long-sleeve, down-to-the-ankle, a collar that goes up her neck, dress that is olive. She also appears to have a belt at her waist.
- She is quite obviously in a millinery shop because there are five other hats on the table or bureau.
- Four of the hats are on hat stands and one is resting on the table.
- The one on the table is a blue hat that is covered in a lacy-frilly design and a blue bow.
- One of the hats on the stand looks like it has the same design, but it is white with a bow.
- The two hats next to it have similar coloring. They both have a darker-red, orange color with a little bit of black.
- The only real difference is that one of them has a floppier brim and the other has a slightly-more top-hat shape.
- Next to those two is the last hat on the stand that is a darker tan or light brown color. Around the crown of the hat are darker olive-color flower, just like the color of the woman's dress; and white flowers and lighter-green ribbons running down the side to tie around the chin.
- In the background, there appear to be windows that maybe are covered by curtains.
- You see a woman holding or sewing a hat. Next to her she has a bunch of hats on a stand.
- One of the hats is white and a big orange bow on it.
- Another one is a light tan color and has a bunch of flowers around it.
- Another hat on the table is blue and has a blue bow. It looks fuzzy.
- Next to or near the woman are some windows. Next to the windows there looks like there's a cloth covering something.
- The woman is wearing an olive-green dress and she looks like she has a pincushion on her arm.
- She is sitting next to the table.
- The hat with the flowers on it looks like it sitting on a wood stand that is painted green.
- There is a hat in the background that looks like it isn't quite finished.
- In the picture, the main event appears to be horse racing. It is a beautiful day for horse racing - the sky is light blue covered with fluffy white clouds.
- There is a building where people can watch the races from where a lot of people are standing and sitting.
- In front of the building, there's an open space of grass where there are lot of people dressed in their Sunday best.
- People on the ground are closest to the railing that keep the spectator area away from the actual race track.
- On the race track, there are two horses. The first horse and rider, the closest one that you see, is a darker brown horse with a rider wearing the classic tan pants, black jacket, and black helmet. The horse appears to be in the middle of racing. However, the rider is pulling back on the reins and even is leaning backwards to get the horse to stop.
- A little ways in front of the horse and to the horse's left is a man standing on the ground holding an orange flag. He's wearing pants and a jacket.
- The other horse is standing with its back to the railing to the right of the man with the flag. This horse's rider has yellowish-orange in his uniform, and is on a slightly-darker horse. The horse also appears not to be running as fast as the other horse. -
- There are two horses. One is on its back legs and the other has all four feet off the ground.
- In the background, there are lots of people on the stands and on the ground.
- There's a man by the black horse that's holding a red flag.
- There's a fence between the people standing on the ground and the horses.
- The women are holding umbrellas.
- The man on the brown horse is wearing a brown outfit. The brown horse has a very short tail.
- The man on the black horse has a yellow cap.
- The stand has a roof on it with a nice trim on the top and bottom of it.
- Both of the horses have their mouths open.
- The grass is all dead - it's just ground.
- The sky is kind of cloudy.
- You don't see a ton of trees, but you see some big ones.
Linked at Homeschool Blog and Tell.