"A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people."
These words from the "painter of dancers" Edgar Degas (18 July 1834-27 September 1917) speak volumes about the allure and beauty of his paintings. At the beginning of his journey Degas was impressed by the art of the French and Italian masters and when he visited Rome in 1857 he filled 28 sketchbooks from the art he saw around him. By 1860 he had copied no fewer than 700 Renaissance and Classical works. Degas said: "It is essential to do the same subject over again, ten times, a hundred times. Nothing in art must seen to be chance, not even movement."
Degas’s developed a fascination with dance and this turned into a lifelong obsession. He will always be remembered first and foremost as the painter of dancers - in the same way that Monet is for water lilies. From the 1870s, Degas put his meticulous observations to use as he scrutinised ballerinas warming up, exercising as well as their backstage movements and he studied performances at the Paris Opéra, home of the national ballet company. He sketched everything.
|Dancer reading paper, 1878/9|
Don't miss this awe-inspiring exhibition at the Royal Academy which links Degas' art to a history of early photography and film, which so influenced his work in later years.