Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was born in France, Paris, to a rich family, and he almost became a lawyer in profession. However, he studied art skills at the famous France Paris School of Fine Arts. He travelled as a young man to Italy in order to learn from the experienced masters. During the 1860’s he began to collect Japanese ukiyo-e prints; which gradually had an influence on his style of painting. His statistics are placed unevenly and on a slanting with partitions. Degas learnt Hokusai’s Manga which made him to study his own life clearly. He looked to get that spirit behind the cover-up of daily life. Subjects on women were his favourite: performing the women’s daily rituals, ballet dancing, working in the cafe and the circus. Degas got contacts with an American artist called Mary Cassatt. He then exhibited his work together with other Impressionists; though over exposed to public ridicule and hostility because this was an original and new style of skill in the 1870’s and also 1880’s. Degas came to like Gauguin and this led to an admiration of his work. This made Gauguin to help Degas and he even bought some paintings done by him. Degas worked using a variety of media, such as pastels, watercolour, lithography, oils, monotype and etching. As Degas approached his death, he worked wholly using pastels, clay and wax. Due to his failing eyesight possibly, his forms became richer and broad, which almost dissolved into each other. His life came to an end in blindness and isolation.

Mary Cassatt, Dega’s friend was born in United States of America. Her father was very rich, a banker and also a railroad tycoon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She left America against her wishes to study art skills in Paris, France. Mary Cassatt later developed a curiosity in the French Impressionists techniques. These impressionists painted everyday scenes stressing on the significance of non artificial shadow and light in clear colour. Later, Cassatt met Degas and developed a close friendship. She posed for many of Degas’ prints and paintings. In her work Cassatt made many paintings and drawings of children and women. Her style was partly influenced by the Japanese woodcuts, specifically those of Utamaro and Harunobi. Cassatt made a sequence of ten colour etching which permitted her to copy the ease found in the Japanese work of art and colour techniques. She worked constantly at trying to get curiosity to Americans in Impressionism, purchasing pictures and giving these pictures to her friends and family. Degas, Like her friend, suffered from a failing eyesight as she progressed becoming older. She died in France, the place she spent a great part of her years as the sole American woman to be actively occupied in French Impressionism.

Paul Gauguin’s chaotic work and life portrays the pressure of Japanese art skills as well as other non-Western cultures. Paul, Van Gogh and other artists made some developments on differing styles which had a wide range of potential that derived from Japanese art skills. Gauguin, born in Paris, travelled widely since early childhood. Gauguin painting interest did not develop until he was in his thirties. Before, this he was an officer (naval) and also worked at a job in stock broking. Originally, his painting style came with the Impressionists, though financial constrains and poor health status followed him in his entire life. In Brittany, he admired the Britons because of their apparent easiness of life, unlike the more complex life patterns in Paris. His painting reflected this admiration which combined with techniques of Japan line and even colour. Gauguin also found that shadows were not seen in most of ukiyo-e prints; consequently, he eliminated the shadows and his colour became more expressive. Gauguin knew Van Gogh and Degas despite him not getting along with either. This was because Gauguin felt that the paintings should be done from the memory rather than the real life. Dissatisfied with this, he left France and left for Tahiti, and later to the Marquesas Islands found in the Pacific Ocean. His paintings, most well known, were done while living among the Tahitians, though his health deteriorated, and was constantly conflicting with the settlers of the islands from Europe. Gauguin died in poverty on the Marquesas, after imprisonment for defending the local island people.

Vincent Van Gogh, born in Holland which is now known as Netherlands. He had great interest in drawing, though as a young man, he studied for the ministry. After failing his examinations, he went to Belgium where he worked as a preacher among the miners, though with little success. At twenty-seven years of age, Vincent Van Gogh turned to art where he drew and painted the days of the workers near him who mainly included peasants, miners and the poor people of the almshouses and landscapes. While living in Antwerp Belgium, Vincent Van Gogh discovered and began to collect Japanese ukiyo-e prints. About 4 years before his short life came to an end, he left Antwerp and went to Paris and its here where Van Gogh appreciated Impressionism and developed his use of intensive colour which was applied with a much free brush stroke. In Paris, his work became more influenced greatly by the Japanese ukiyo-e and mostparticularly the prints found in Hokusai and Hiroshige’s Manga albums. He tried to identify himself with the Japanese artists by drawing with the reed pen; he also attempted to use the Japanese idea of a district of artists mutually helping one another. This need for help did not work quite well for him, beyond the exchange of work with the other artists. It became disastrous for Van Gogh when he went to the Arles found in southern France so as to live with Paul Gauguin. Later, he left Paris and went to live and also work in Arles. This is when his health became more deteriorated due to depression and heavy drinking. In Arles, Van Gogh painted with an amount that produced some of his professional finest work. This was because he used a vibrant colour and a line in his search so as to express feelings and moods. As he developed his productive life and his drawings and paintings were praised in many exhibitions in Paris and Brussels, his emotional health became more deteriorated even further. He then died at age of 37 due to a self-inflicted wound of gun shot.