Tuesday, 27 September 2016


The Edgar Degas exhibition has been on all winter at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). The Waverley Art Quilters thought that this was a good opportunity to learn more about Degas and make a quilt inspired by his work or technique.

Degas was born on the 19th July 1834 into a wealthy banking family. He decided to abandon Law school and attended the Beaux-Arts school in 1855. He believed that drawing was the foundation of a good painting.

Family Portrait (Bellelli Family)- Degas  

He studied the old masters but soon realised that they were out of date and started befriending his contemporaries like Courbet and Manet who believed that art should reflect real life. Consequently Degas exhibited in every Impressionist Exhibition except for 1882.

Degas would always carry a sketchbook to capture modern day scenes and would frequent cafes and music halls for inspiration.

Degas is famous for capturing a person or animal in unusual angles, this was something new back then. He was also an enthusiastic photographer which helped him examine the movements of racehorses.

Many Degas paintings depict naked women going about their everyday tasks like washing or combing their hair. He is also well-known for his ballet portraits.

Rehearsal at the Opera-Degas 1872
Degas did not need money and so he preferred to keep his paintings, this meant that his paintings became very valuable because they were rarely for sale.
Towards the end of his life he started to lose his eyesight and became more comfortable with sculpture until he stopped work altogether in 1908.

He was known to be unfriendly and disagreeable and died on the 27th September 1917, famous in his own lifetime.

I decided to keep with my underwater theme even when being inspired by Degas! From a distance his ballerina paintings look pretty but when you go closer the faces look contorted and a bit ugly. Degas wanted to paint ballerinas at work when they were tired or stretching.

The Leafy Sea Dragon came to my mind because although they can look so pretty and ethereal when you look closer they can be a bit ugly.

Degas used oil pastels and I had some fabrics that looked a bit softer and more pastel-like that were perfect for my quilt.

Leafy Sea Dragon ©2016 Linda Steele

Bye for now,

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