Edgar Degas was born on July 10, 1834 in Paris. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1855. His early work was primarily historical subject paintings and portraits, influenced by Ingres. Edgar Degas soon began painting theatrical subjects and dancers, of which he has become so well known. The special talent of Edgar Degas lay in his ability to find unfamiliar beauty in the passing scene.
He took an active role in the first Impressionist show of 1874 and in 1881 he showed his first sculpture. He never married, but he did have a circle of female friends and confidants, including the American painter Mary Cassatt, among his intimate friends. Degas is often identified as an Impressionist. Technically, Edgar Degas differs from the Impressionists in that, as art historian Frederick Hartt says, he “never adopted the Impressionist color fleck”, and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air. Degas passed away on September 27, 1917, at the age of 83.