1834 Born in Paris, France.

Degas self-portrait

Self-Portrait, 1857–1858, oil on paper on canvas, 8 1/8 x 6 ¼, Getty Museum

1845 Degas enters Louis-le-Grand secondary school on Rue Saint-Jacques.

René de Gas

René de Gas, 1855, black chalk heightened with traces of white chalk on ivory paper, 346 x 280 mm, Art Institute of Chicago

1847 Degas'Mother, Célestine, dies after birthing five children (Edgar is age 13).

1853 Completes secondary school; begins copying at the Louvre Museum (April 7).

November: registers for law school to appease his father.

Studies with Louis Lamothe (French, 1822–1869).

Italian Head

Italian Head, 1856, charcoal with stumping, 384 x 260 mm, Art Institute of Chicago

1855 Admitted to École des Beaux-Arts, placed 33rd in entry competition; attends for one semester, then drops out.

Meets Jean Dominique Ingres through the elderly collector Valpinçon. Paints a self-portrait, posing in the manner of Ingres

1856 Moves to Rome, Italy.

1858 Travels to Florence; stays with relatives: the Bellillifamily;meets Gustave Moreau.

Portrait of Bellilli Family

Portrait of Bellelli Family, 1860–1862, oil on canvas, 200 x 253 cm, Musée d'Orsay

1859 Returns to Paris; in November moves into a spacious studio; devotes himself to large history paintings that often go unfinished; executes self-portraits and first racetrack scenes.

Young Spartans Exercising

Young Spartans Exercising, 1860, oil painting, 109.5 X 155 cm, National Gallery, London

1863 Degas meets Édouard Manet while copying at the Louvre.

Edouard Manet, Bust-Length Portrait

Édouard Manet, bust-length portrait, 1864–1865, etching, drypoint, and aquatint, 122 x 97 mm (image), Art Institute of Chicago, (Friends)


1865 Artist begins writing his name as “Degas” as opposed to “de Gas.” First exhibit at the Salon; continues to exhibit there until 1870;subject matter turns to portraiture. Forges friendship with artist James Tissot (French, 1836-1902).

The Scenes of War from the Middle Ages / Misfortunes of the town of Orleans

The Scenes of War from the Middle Ages/Misfortunes of the City of Orleans, 1863, MIT Collection

1867 Exhibits Bellelli Family at the Salon.

Portrait of Mlle Fiocre in the Ballet “La Source”

Portrait of Mlle Fiocre in the Ballet "La Source," 1867–1868, oil on canvas, 130.8 x 145.1 cm, Brooklyn Museum

1869 Trip to Brussels, Belgium.

The Laundresses

The Laundresses, 1884–1886, oil on canvas, 76 x 81 cm, Musée d'Orsay

1870 Last year exhibiting at the Salon. In April of this year, he submits an open letter to the Salon Academy to reconsider the way in which they display pictures. Paints his first picture of ballerinas dancing;paints The Orchestra of the Opera.

1870–1871 Degas serves in the Paris National Guard during the Franco-Prussian war.

1871 Paris Commune; Degas in Normandy with his friends the Vollards.

Madame Camus

Madame Camus, 1869/70, oil on canvas, 72.7 x 92.1 cm, National Gallery of Art, DC

1872 Degas travels to New Orleans with his brother René and paints The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans. Durand-Ruel buys two of Degas'ballet paintings:Dance Class and Dancers at the Opera.

1873 Together with Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley and Paul Cézanne forms the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs (what would become the Impressionists).

Yellow Dancers (in the Wings)

Yellow Dancers (in the Wings), 1874–1876, oil on canvas, 73.5 x 59.5 cm, Art Institute of Chicago

1874 First Impressionist Exhibition. Artist’s father, Auguste de Gas, dies leaves Edgar in dire financial straits as he struggles to pay off his—previously unknown—family debts. His subject matter becomes deliberately chosen for market.

1875 Attends l'Opéra at the Palais Garnier.


At the Café Concert of the Ambassadors

At the Café Concert of the Ambassadors, 1885, pastel on hard ground print, monotype, 26.5 x 29.5 cm, Musée d’Orsay

1876 Stéphane Mallarmé publishes glowing review of Degas in The London Journal.

Mlle Becat at the Café des Ambassadeurs

Mlle Bécat at the Café des Ambassadeurs, 1877–1878, lithograph on wove paper, 205 x 193 mm, Art Institute of Chicago

1878 Degas’ work The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans is purchased by Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau—becoming his first artwork in a public collection.

1879 Befriends Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926). Collaborates with Cassatt and Pissarro on the never published print book Le Jour et la Nuit.

Portrait of Miss. Cassatt

Mary Cassatt, portrait, 1976–1878, oil on canvas, 74 x 60 cm, Private Collection, New York

1880 Joris-Karl Huysmans devotes long article to Degas in L'Art moderne.

1881 Exhibits Little Dancer at the Impressionist Exhibition.


Bed-Time, 1880–1885, pastel and print on paper, 22.9 x 44.5 cm

1882 Moves to Rue Pigalle.

At the Milliner’s

At the Milliner's, 1882, 70.2 x 70.5 cm, Museum of Modern Art

1883 Friend and artistic peer Édouard Manet dies.

1885–1892 Regularly attends the Paris Opéra.

1886 Eighth and final Impressionist Exhibition in Paris. Travels to Geneva and Naples.

1887 Theo Van Gogh begins buying Degas’ work for Boussod et Valadon gallery, ending Durand-Ruel’s monopoly on the artist’s work.

1889 Travels to Spain and Morocco. Visits the Prado; attends a bullfight.

1890 Moves to Rue Victor-Massé; travels to Switzerland &Burgundy. Begins executing landscapes. George Moore publishes Degas: The Painter of Modern Life. Degas begins to withdraw from the public eye and aggressively collect art.

Salle de billard au Menil-Hubert

Salle de billard au Menil-Hubert, 1892, oil on canvas, 50.7 x 65.9, Musée d’Orsay

1891 Theo Van Gogh dies. Degas no longer sells with Boussod et Valadon.

1892 Ceases to regularly attend ballet rehearsals.

1895 Purchases camera; begins experimenting with photography, mostly shooting at night.

1896 Seven artworks by Degas enter the Luxembourg collection in the Caillebotte bequest.

1897 Dreyfus affair causes Degas to lose friends and personal relations.

1906 Travels to Naples. George Moore publishes Degas: The painter of Modern Life, an essay in the UK that helped make the artist a celebrity.

Ceremony of ordination in the Cathedral of Lyons

Ceremony of Ordination in the Cathedral of Lyons, oil on canvas, 31.4 x 23.3 cm, Fitzwilliam Museum

1912 Danseuses a la barre sells for 500,000 francs (17,000 pounds) at a Rouart sale in Paris. Degas is now too blind to make art.

1917 September 27, he dies from a brain aneurysm

1918 Paul Lafond publishes illustrated biography Degas.

1918–1919 Estate sale; the discovery of hundreds of unknown works of painting and sculptures brings notoriety to the incredible diversity of Degas’ output.