b. 1834; d. 1917
In 1834, Degas was born into a family of bankers in Paris. At the age of thirteen, Degas' mother died, making his father and grandfather his most prominent influences.
Despite his desire to paint, Degas started studying law but ended his studies in 1853 and started visiting Felix Joseph Barrias' studio where he copied several Renaissance works. Over the next several years, Degas traveled to Italy in order to study the Old Masters as well as visit relatives.
Degas painted portraits of his relatives and historical images before creating the images that he is most widely known for today. After painting jockeys and race horses in the late 1860's, Degas began painting ballerinas, a subject of his art until the end of his career.
Before he completely stopped working in 1911, due to failing eye sight, Degas drew in pastels and modeled statues in wax. More than 150 small sculptures were found in his studio, after his death, most were of race horses and ballet dancers.