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Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas[p] (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917), born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas (French pronunciation: ​[ilɛʁ ʒɛʁmɛnɛdɡɑʁ dəˈɡɑ]), was a French artist. Degas is famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and drawing. He is thought as one of the first to do Impressionism. However Degas didn't think of himself like that. He thought of himself as a realist.[1] A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation.[2]

Early in his career, his ambition was to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.[3]

Early life

Degas was born in Paris, France, the eldest of five children of Célestine Musson De Gas and Augustin De Gas, a banker. The family was moderately wealthy. His mother died when Degas was thirteen, after which his father and grandfather were the main influences on his early life. At age eleven, Degas (in adulthood he abandoned the more pretentious spelling of the family name)[4] began his schooling with enrollment in the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, graduating in 1853 with a baccalauréat in literature.

Degas began to paint early in his life. By eighteen, he had turned a room in his home into an artist's studio, and in 1853 he registered as a copyist in the Louvre. His father, however, expected him to go to law school. Degas duly registered at the Faculty of Law of the University of Paris in November 1853, but made little effort at his studies there. In 1855, Degas met Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, whom he revered, and whose advice he never forgot: "Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist."[5] In April of that same year, Degas received admission to the École des Beaux-Arts, where he studied drawing with Louis Lamothe, under whose guidance he flourished, following the style of Ingres.[6] In July 1856, Degas traveled to Italy, where he would remain for the next three years. In 1858, while staying with his aunt's family in Naples, he made the first studies for his early masterpiece, The Bellelli Family. He also drew and painted copies after Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and other artists of the Renaissance, often selecting from an altarpiece an individual head which he treated as a portrait.[7] By 1860 Degas had made more than seven hundred[source?] copies of works including Italian Renaissance and French Classical art.

Artistic career

Upon his return to France in 1859, Degas moved into a Paris studio large enough to permit him to begin painting The Bellelli Family—an imposing canvas he intended for exhibition in the Salon, although it remained unfinished until 1867. He also began work on several history paintings: Alexander and Bucephalus and The Daughter of Jephthah in 1859–60; Sémiramis Building Babylon in 1860; and Young Spartans around 1860.[8] In 1861, Degas visited his childhood friend Paul Valpinçon in Normandy, and made the earliest of his many studies of horses. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1865, when the jury accepted his painting Scene of War in the Middle Ages, which attracted little attention.[9] Although he exhibited annually in the Salon during the next five years, he submitted no more history paintings, and his Steeplechase—The Fallen Jockey (Salon of 1866) signaled his growing commitment to contemporary subject matter. The change in his art was influenced primarily by the example of Édouard Manet, whom Degas had met in 1864 (while both were copying the same Velázquez portrait in the Louvre, according to a story that may be apocryphal).[10]

At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Degas enlisted in the National Guard, where his defense of Paris left him little time for painting. During rifle training his eyesight was found to be defective, and for the rest of his life his eye problems were a constant worry to him.[11] After the war, in 1872, Degas began an extended stay in New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother René and a number of other relatives lived. Staying in a house on Esplanade Avenue, Degas produced a number of works, many depicting family members. One of Degas' New Orleans works, depicting a scene at The Cotton Exchange at New Orleans, garnered favorable attention back in France, and was his only work purchased by a museum (that of Pau) during his lifetime.

Degas returned to Paris in 1873. The following year his father died, and in the subsequent settling of the estate it was discovered that Degas' brother René had amassed enormous business debts. To preserve the family name, Degas was forced to sell his house and a collection of art he had inherited. Dependent for the first time in his life on sales of his artwork for income, he produced much of his greatest work during the decade beginning in 1874.[12] By now thoroughly disenchanted with the Salon, Degas joined forces with a group of young artists who were intent upon organizing an independent exhibiting society. The first of their exhibitions, which were quickly dubbed Impressionist Exhibitions, was in 1874. The Impressionists subsequently held seven additional shows, the last in 1886. Degas took a leading role in organizing the exhibitions, and showed his work in all but one of them, despite his persistent conflicts with others in the group. He had little in common with Monet and the other landscape painters, whom he mocked for painting outdoors. Conservative in his social attitudes, he abhorred the scandal created by the exhibitions, as well as the publicity and advertising that his colleagues sought.[1] He bitterly rejected the label Impressionist that the press had created and popularized, and his insistence on including non-Impressionist artists such as Jean-Louis Forain and Jean-François Raffaëlli in their exhibitions created rancor within the group, contributing to their eventual disbanding in 1886.[13]

As his financial situation improved through sales of his own work, he was able to indulge his passion for collecting works by artists he admired: old masters such as El Greco and such contemporaries as Manet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Three artists he idolized, Ingres, Delacroix, and Daumier, were especially well represented in his collection.[14]

In the late 1880s, Degas also developed a passion for photography.[15] He photographed many of his friends, often by lamplight, as in his double portrait of Renoir and Mallarmê. Other photographs, depicting dancers and nudes, were used for reference in some of Degas' drawings and paintings.[16]

As the years passed, Degas became isolated, due in part to his belief that a painter could have no personal life.[17] The Dreyfus Affair controversy brought his anti-Semitic leanings to the fore and he broke with all his Jewish friends.[18] His argumentative nature was deplored by Renoir, who said of him: "What a creature he was, that Degas! All his friends had to leave him; I was one of the last to go, but even I couldn't stay till the end."[19]

Although he is known to have been working in pastel as late as the end of 1907, and is believed to have continued making sculpture as late as 1910, he apparently ceased working in 1912, when the impending demolition of his longtime residence on the rue Victor Massé forced a wrenching move to quarters on the boulevard de Clichy.[20] He never married and spent the last years of his life, nearly blind, restlessly wandering the streets of Paris[21] before dying in 1917.

Artistic style

File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 021.jpg
The Dance Class (La Classe de Danse),1873–1876, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas

Degas is often identified as an Impressionist, an understandable but insufficient description. Impressionism originated in the 1860s and 1870s and grew, in part, from the realism of such painters as Courbet and Corot. The Impressionists painted the realities of the world around them using bright, "dazzling" colors, concentrating primarily on the effects of light, and hoping to infuse their scenes with immediacy.

Technically, Degas differs from the Impressionists in that he "never adopted the Impressionist color fleck",[22] and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air.[23] "He was often as anti-impressionist as the critics who reviewed the shows", according to art historian Carol Armstrong; as Degas himself explained, "no art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing."[24] Nonetheless, he is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement. His scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists—most notably Mary Cassatt and Édouard Manet—all relate him intimately to the Impressionist movement.[25]

Degas' style reflects his deep respect for the old masters (he was an enthusiastic copyist well into middle age)[26] and his great admiration for Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Eugène Delacroix. He was also a collector of Japanese prints, whose compositional principles influenced his work, as did the vigorous realism of popular illustrators such as Daumier and Gavarni. Although famous for horses and dancers, Degas began with conventional historical paintings such as The Young Spartans, in which his gradual progress toward a less idealized treatment of the figure is already apparent. During his early career, Degas also painted portraits of individuals and groups; an example of the latter is The Bellelli Family (c.1858–67), a brilliantly composed and psychologically poignant portrayal of his aunt, her husband, and their children. In this painting, as in The Young Spartans and many later works, Degas was drawn to the tensions present between men and women. In his early paintings, Degas already evidenced the mature style that he would later develop more fully by cropping subjects awkwardly and by choosing unusual viewpoints.

File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 012.jpg
L'Absinthe, 1876, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas

By the late 1860s, Degas had shifted from his initial forays into history painting to an original observation of contemporary life. Racecourse scenes provided an opportunity to depict horses and their riders in a modern context. He began to paint women at work, milliners and laundresses. Mlle. Fiocre in the Ballet La Source, exhibited in the Salon of 1868, was his first major work to introduce a subject with which he would become especially identified, dancers.[27]

In many subsequent paintings dancers were shown backstage or in rehearsal, emphasizing their status as professionals doing a job. From 1870 Degas increasingly painted ballet subjects, partly because they sold well and provided him with needed income after his brother's debts had left the family bankrupt.[28] Degas began to paint café life as well. He urged other artists to paint "real life" instead of traditional mythological or historical paintings, and the few literary scenes he painted were modern and of highly ambiguous content. For example, Interior (which has also been called The Rape) has presented a conundrum to art historians in search of a literary source; internal evidence suggests that it may be based on a scene from Thérèse Raquin.[29]

As his subject matter changed, so, too, did Degas' technique. The dark palette that bore the influence of Dutch painting gave way to the use of vivid colors and bold brushstrokes. Paintings such as Place de la Concorde read as "snapshots," freezing moments of time to portray them accurately, imparting a sense of movement. The lack of color in the 1874 Ballet Rehearsal on Stage and the 1876 The Ballet Instructor can be said to link with his interest in the new technique of photography. The changes to his palette, brushwork, and sense of composition all evidence the influence that both the Impressionist movement and modern photography, with its spontaneous images and off-kilter angles, had on his work.[25]

File:Edgar Degas Place de la Concorde.jpg
Place de la Concorde, 1875, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Blurring the distinction between portraiture and genre pieces, he painted his bassoonist friend, Désiré Dihau, in The Orchestra of the Opera (1868–69) as one of fourteen musicians in an orchestra pit, viewed as though by a member of the audience. Above the musicians can be seen only the legs and tutus of the dancers onstage, their figures cropped by the edge of the painting. Art historian Charles Stuckey has compared the viewpoint to that of a distracted spectator at a ballet, and says that "it is Degas' fascination with the depiction of movement, including the movement of a spectator's eyes as during a random glance, that is properly speaking 'Impressionist'."[30]

File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 010.jpg
Musicians in the Orchestra, 1872, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas

Degas' mature style is distinguished by conspicuously unfinished passages, even in otherwise tightly rendered paintings. He frequently blamed his eye troubles for his inability to finish, an explanation that met with some skepticism from colleagues and collectors who reasoned, as Stuckey explains, that "his pictures could hardly have been executed by anyone with inadequate vision."[31] The artist provided another clue when he described his predilection "to begin a hundred things and not finish one of them,"[32] and was in any case notoriously reluctant to consider a painting complete.

His interest in portraiture led him to study carefully the ways in which a person's social stature or form of employment may be revealed by their physiognomy, posture, dress, and other attributes. In his 1879 Portraits, At the Stock Exchange, he portrayed a group of Jewish businessmen with a hint of anti-Semitism. In 1881 he exhibited two pastels, Criminal Physiognomies, that depicted juvenile gang members recently convicted of murder in the "Abadie Affair". Degas had attended their trial with sketchbook in hand, and his numerous drawings of the defendants reveal his interest in the atavistic features thought by some nineteenth century scientists to be evidence of innate criminality.[33] In his paintings of dancers and laundresses, he reveals their occupations not only by their dress and activities but also by their body type. His ballerinas exhibit an athletic physicality, while his laundresses are heavy and solid.[34]

File:Edgar Degas - At the Races.jpg
At the Races, 1877–1880, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

By the later 1870s Degas had mastered not only the traditional medium of oil on canvas, but pastel as well. The dry medium, which he applied in complex layers and textures, enabled him more easily to reconcile his facility for line with a growing interest in expressive color.

In the mid-1870s he also returned to the medium of etching, which he had neglected for ten years, and began experimenting with less traditional printmaking media—lithographs and experimental monotypes. He was especially fascinated by the effects produced by monotype, and frequently reworked the printed images with pastel.[35]

File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 029.jpg
La Toilette (Woman Combing Her Hair), c. 1884–1886, pastel on paper, by Edgar Degas, Pushkin Museum, Moscow

These changes in media engendered the paintings that Degas would produce in later life. Degas began to draw and paint women drying themselves with towels, combing their hair, and bathing (see: After the Bath). The strokes that model the form are scribbled more freely than before; backgrounds are simplified.

The meticulous naturalism of his youth gave way to an increasing abstraction of form. Except for his characteristically brilliant draftsmanship and obsession with the figure, the pictures created in this late period of his life bear little superficial resemblance to his early paintings. Ironically, it is these paintings, created late in his life, and after the heyday of the Impressionist movement, that most obviously use the coloristic techniques of Impressionism.[36]

For all the stylistic evolution, certain features of Degas's work remained the same throughout his life. He always painted indoors, preferring to work in his studio, either from memory or using models.[37] The figure remained his primary subject; his few landscapes were produced from memory or imagination. It was not unusual for him to repeat a subject many times, varying the composition or treatment. He was a deliberative artist whose works, as Andrew Forge has written, "were prepared, calculated, practiced, developed in stages. They were made up of parts. The adjustment of each part to the whole, their linear arrangement, was the occasion for infinite reflection and experiment."[38] Degas himself explained, "In art, nothing should look like chance, not even movement".[28]

Personality and politics

Degas, who believed that "the artist must live alone, and his private life must remain unknown",[39] lived an outwardly uneventful life. In company he was known for his wit, which could often be cruel. He was characterized as an "old curmudgeon" by the novelist George Moore,[39] and he deliberately cultivated his reputation as a misanthropic bachelor.[19] Profoundly conservative in his political opinions, he opposed all social reforms and found little to admire in such technological advances as the telephone.[39] He fired a model upon learning she was Protestant.[39] Although Degas painted a number of Jewish subjects from 1865 to 1870, his anti-Semitism became apparent by the mid 1870s. His 1879 painting At The Bourse is widely regarded as strongly anti-Semitic, with the facial features of the banker taken directly from the anti-Semitic cartoons rampant in Paris at the time.[40]

The Dreyfus Affair, which divided Paris from the 1890s to the early 1900s, further intensified his anti-Semitism. By the mid 1890s, he had broken off relations with all of his Jewish friends,[18] publicly disavowed his previous friendships with Jewish artists, and refused to use models who he believed might be Jewish. He remained an outspoken anti-Semite and member of the anti-Semitic "Anti-Dreyfusards" until his death.[41]


During his life, public reception of Degas' work ranged from admiration to contempt. As a promising artist in the conventional mode, Degas had a number of paintings accepted in the Salon between 1865–1870. These works received praise from Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the critic, Castagnary.[42] He soon joined forces with the Impressionists, however, and rejected the rigid rules, judgements, and elitism of the Salon—just as the Salon and general public initially rejected the experimentalism of the Impressionists.

Degas's work was controversial, but was generally admired for its draftsmanship. His La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, or Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, which he displayed at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, was probably his most controversial piece; some critics decried what they thought its "appalling ugliness" while others saw in it a "blossoming."[43] The suite of nudes Degas exhibited in the eighth Impressionist Exhibition in 1886 produced "the most concentrated body of critical writing on the artist during his lifetime. ... The overall reaction was positive and laudatory."[44]

Recognized as an important artist by the end of his life, Degas is now considered "one of the founders of Impressionism".[45] Though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries, his involvement with the other major figures of Impressionism and their exhibitions, his dynamic paintings and sketches of everyday life and activities, and his bold color experiments, served to finally tie him to the Impressionist movement as one of its greatest early artists.

His paintings, pastels, drawings, and sculpture—most of the latter were not intended for exhibition, and were discovered only after his death—are on prominent display in many museums.

After his death in 1917, more than 150 sculptural works were found in his studio, of which the subjects mainly consisted of race horses and dancers. Degas scholars have agreed that the sculptures were not created as aids to painting. His first and only showing of sculpture during his life took place in 1881 when he exhibited The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer, only shown again in 1920; the rest of the sculptural works remained private until an exhibition after his death in 1918. Sculpture was not so much in response to his failing eyesight as one more strand to his continuing endeavour to explore different media. Wherever the possibility seemed available, he explored ways of linking graphic art and oil painting, drawing and pastel, sculpture and photography. Degas assigned the same significance to sculpture as to drawing: "Drawing is a way of thinking, modelling another."[28]

Although Degas had no formal pupils, he greatly influenced several important painters, most notably Jean-Louis Forain, Mary Cassatt, and Walter Sickert;[46] his greatest admirer may have been Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.[47]

73 Plaster casts

In 2004, a previously unknown cache of 73 plaster casts created from wax originals sculpted by Edgar Degas was discovered. Art scholars are not in agreement as to what exactly the 73 casts actually are.[48]

After Degas' death, his heirs found in his studio 150 wax sculptures, many in disrepair. They consulted foundry owner Adrien Hébrard, who concluded that 74 of the waxes could be cast in bronze. It is assumed that, except for the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, all Degas bronzes worldwide are cast from surmoulages (i.e., cast from bronze masters). A surmoulage bronze is a bit smaller, and shows less surface detail, than its original bronze mold. The Hébrard Foundry cast the bronzes from 1919–1936, and closed down in 1937, shortly before Hébrard's death.

In 2001, Walter F. Maibaum, an authority on 19th and 20th century European art, was introduced to Leonardo Benatov, owner of the Valsuani Foundry in La Vallée de Chevreuse, France, and possessor of a heretofore unknown plaster cast of the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. After research and consultation with other experts on Degas, Maibaum was convinced the plaster was an original. In 2004, Mr. Benatov opened a locked stockroom in Valsuani in which 73 additional plasters were stored, all unknown and never listed or catalogued, but consistent with the 73 originals that Degas’ heirs gave to Hébrard Foundry in 1918.

According to Maibaum: “..The moment I gazed upon these remarkable plasters I instantly knew that everything that had been written about Degas’ sculptures in the past had to be reconsidered”. After examining them, Dr. Gregory Hedberg, Director of European Art for Hirschl and Adler Galleries in New York, concluded that the entire group of plasters from the Valsuani Foundry were made during Degas’ lifetime between 1887 and 1912 by the artist’s close friend Albert Bartholomé whom he entrusted with the task.

In 1955, the contents of Bartholomé's widow’s apartment were dispersed and the plasters were brought to Valsuani by the Hébrard caster Palazzolo. It appears, from their condition and provenance, that no bronzes were ever cast from these newly discovered plasters. Plans to cast the newly discovered Degas sculptures, which differ in the rendering of details from the Hébrard casts, have created disagreement among Degas scholars and admirers, some of whom are reserving judgment regarding the authenticity of the plasters.[49]

A theft of one of his works

On the morning of December 31, 2009, Degas' painting Les Choristes (The Chorus) was discovered stolen from the Catini Museum in Marseilles, which had the painting on loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.[50]




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[p] - The name Degas is pronounced as "Deh-Gah".
  1. 1.0 1.1 Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 31
  2. Brown 1994, p. 11
  3. Turner 2000, p. 139
  4. The family's ancestral name was Degas. Jean Sutherland Boggs explains that De Gas was the spelling, "with some pretentions, used by the artist's father when he moved to Paris to establish a French branch of his father's Neopolitan bank." While Edgar Degas's brother René adopted the still more aristocratic de Gas, the artist reverted to the original spelling, Degas, by age thirty. Baumann, et al. 1994, p. 98.
  5. Werner 1969, p. 14
  6. Canaday 1969, p. 930-931
  7. Baumann, et al. 1994, p. 154
  8. Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 43
  9. Thomson 1988, p. 48
  10. Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 23
  11. Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p.29
  12. Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p.33
  13. Armstrong 1991, p. 25
  14. "In the final inventory of his collection, there were twenty paintings and eighty-eight drawings by Ingres, thirteen paintings and almost two hundred drawings by Delacroix. There were hundreds of lithographs by Daumier. His contemporaries were well represented—with the exception of Monet, by whom he had nothing." Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 37
  15. Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 26
  16. Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 34
  17. Canaday 1969, p. 929
  18. 18.0 18.1 Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p. 56
  19. 19.0 19.1 Bade and Degas 1992, p. 6.
  20. Thomson 1988, p. 211
  21. Mannering 1994, p. 7
  22. Hartt 1976, p. 365
  23. Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 11
  24. Armstrong 1991, p. 22
  25. 25.0 25.1 Roskill 1983, p.33
  26. Baumann, et al. 1994, p. 151
  27. Dumas 1988, p. 9.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Growe 1992
  29. Reff 1976, pp. 200-204
  30. Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p.28
  31. Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p. 29
  32. Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p.50
  33. Kendall, et al. 1998, pp. 78–85 (seen at googlebooks here; also see
  34. Muehlig 1979, p. 6
  35. Thomson 1988, p. 75
  36. Mannering 1994, pp. 70-77
  37. Benedek "Style."
  38. Gordon and Forge 1988, p. 9
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 Werner 1969, p. 11.
  41. Politics of Vision: Essays on 19th Century Art And Society
  42. Bowness 1965, pp. 41-42
  43. Muehlig 1979, p.7
  44. Thomson 1988, p. 135
  45. Mannering 1994, p. 6-7
  46. J. Paul Getty Trust
  47. Guillaud and Guillaud 1985, p. 48
  48. The Art Newspaper, Martin Bailey, The silence of the Degas scholars Retrieved April 11, 2010
  49. Jerusalem Post, Gil Goldfine, The complete sculptures of Edgar Degas Retrieved April 11, 2010
  50. "Degas artwork stolen from museum". BBC News. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010.


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  • Armstrong, Carol (1991). Odd Man Out: Readings of the Work and Reputation of Edgar Degas. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226026957
  • Bade, Patrick; Degas, Edgar (1992). Degas. London: Studio Editions. ISBN 1851708456
  • Baumann, Felix; Karabelnik, Marianne, et al. (1994). Degas Portraits. London: Merrell Holberton. ISBN 1-85894-014-1
  • Benedek, Nelly S. "Chronology of the Artist's Life." Degas. 2004. 21 May 2004.
  • Benedek, Nelly S. "Degas's Artistic Style." Degas. 2004. 21 March 2004.
  • Bowness, Alan. ed. (1965) "Edgar Degas." The Book of Art Volume 7. New York: Grolier Incorporated :41.
  • Brettell, Richard R.; McCullagh, Suzanne Folds (1984). Degas in The Art Institute of Chicago. New York: The Art Institute of Chicago and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN 0-86559-058-3
  • Brown, Marilyn (1994). Degas and the Business of Art: a Cotton Office in New Orleans. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-00944-6
  • Canaday, John (1969). The Lives of the Painters Volume 3. New York: W.W. Norton and Company Inc.
  • Dorra, Henri. Art in Perspective New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.:208
  • Dumas, Ann (1988). Degas's Mlle. Fiocre in Context. Brooklyn: The Brooklyn Museum. ISBN 0-87273-116-2
  • "Edgar Degas, 1834-1917." The Book of Art Volume III (1976). New York: Grolier Incorporated:4.
  • Gordon, Robert; Forge, Andrew (1988). Degas. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-1142-6
  • Growe, Bernd; Edgar Degas (1992). Edgar Degas, 1834-1917. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen. ISBN 3822805602
  • Guillaud, Jaqueline; Guillaud, Maurice (editors) (1985). Degas: Form and Space. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-5407-8
  • Hartt, Frederick (1976). "Degas" Art Volume 2. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.: 365.
  • "Impressionism." Praeger Encyclopedia of Art Volume 3 (1967). New York: Praeger Publishers: 952.
  • J. Paul Getty Trust "Walter Richard Sickert." 2003. 11 May 2004.
  • Kendall, Richard; Degas, Edgar; Druick, Douglas W.; Beale, Arthur (1998). Degas and The Little Dancer. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300074972
  • Mannering, Douglas (1994). The Life and Works of Degas. Great Britain: Parragon Book Service Limited.
  • Muehlig, Linda D. (1979). Degas and the Dance, 5–27 April May 1979. Northampton, Mass.: Smith College Museum of Art.
  • Peugeot, Catherine, Sellier, Marie (2001). A Trip to the Orsay Museum. Paris: ADAGP: 39.
  • Reff, Theodore (1976). Degas the artist's mind. [New York]: Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0870991469
  • Roskill, Mark W. (1983). "Edgar Degas." Collier's Encyclopedia.
  • Thomson, Richard (1988). Degas: The Nudes. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. ISBN 0-500-23509-0
  • Tinterow, Gary (1988). Degas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and National Gallery of Canada.
  • Turner, J. (2000). From Monet to Cézanne: late 19th-century French artists. Grove Art. New York: St Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-22971-2
  • Werner, Alfred (1969) Degas Pastels. New York: Watson-Guptill. ISBN 0-8230-1276-X

Further reading

  • Capriati, Elio; I Segreti di Degas (2009). Milano: Mjm Editore. ISBN 978-88-95682-68-6

External links


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Grip tape, when put on to the top of a skateboard, gives a skater's feet grip on the deck. It is most often black. However, it can come in many different colors like clear. Clear allows the top of the deck to be decorated. It has an adhesive back and a sandpaper like top.


A skateboard truck

Two trucks are put on the deck. They are made of metal (normally mixed with aluminum). Trucks connect to the wheels and deck. The trucks are further made up of two parts. The top part of the truck is screwed to the deck. The top of the truck is called the baseplate. The bottom is the hanger. The axle runs through the hanger. Between the baseplate and the hanger are bushings, also called rubbers or grommets. They allow you to turn the skateboard. The bushings cushion the truck when it turns. The stiffer the bushings, the harder it is for the skateboard to turn. The softer the bushings, the easier it is to turn. A bolt called a kingpin holds these parts together and fits inside the bushings. So by tightening or loosening the kingpin nut, the trucks can be changed from loose to tight and tight to loose.

Skateboard trucks are made in many different axle widths. The axle width should be close to the width of the deck it will be used with.[1] For example, a 7.75 inch wide deck will normally be fitted with trucks that have axles between 7.5 inches wide and 8.0 inches wide. Trucks that are too wide can make tricks hard to do. It can also make the wheels get in the way when the skateboard is being ridden. Trucks that are too small can be hard to keep stability. It can also make the wheel bump the bottom of the deck when turning.

Longboard specific trucks are a more new making. A longboard truck has the king pin laid at a more acute angle to the deck. (normally between 38 and 50 degrees)[2] This gives a smaller degree of turning for the same tilt of the deck. This allows riders to go much faster and still keep good stability and control.


The wheels of a skateboard, usually made of polyurethane, come in many different sizes and shapes to suit different types of skating. Larger sizes like 54–85 mm roll faster, and also move more easily over cracks in pavement. Smaller sizes like 48–54 mm keep the board closer to the ground, require less force to accelerate and produce a lower center of gravity, but also make for a slower top speed. Wheels also are available in a variety of hardnesses usually measured on the Shore durometer "A" scale. Wheels range from the very soft (about Shore A 75) to the very hard (about Shore A 101). As the A scale stops at 100, any wheels labeled 101A or higher are harder, but do not use the appropriate durometer scale. Some wheel manufacturers now use the "B" or "D" scales, which have a larger and more accurate range of hardness.

Modern street skaters prefer smaller wheels (usually 51–54 mm), as small wheels with lighter trucks can make tricks like kickflips and other flip tricks easier by keeping the center of gravity of the skateboard closer to the deck, thus making the deck easier to spin. Street wheels are often quite hard as this allows the wheels to slide easier on waxed surfaces for bluntslides and nose/tailslides. Vertical ramp or "vert" skating requires larger wheels (usually 55–65 mm), as it involves higher speeds. Vert wheels are also usually softer, allowing them to maintain high speed on ramps without sliding. Slalom skating requires even larger wheels (60–75 mm) to sustain the highest speeds possible. They also need to be soft and have better grip to make the tight and frequent turns in slalom racing. Even larger wheels are used in longboarding and downhill skateboarding. Sizes range from 65 mm to 100 mm. These extreme sizes of wheels almost always have cores of hard plastic that can be made thinner and lighter than a solid polyurethane wheel. They are often used by skateboard videographers as well, as the large soft wheels allow for smooth and easy movement over any terrain.

An Animation of the working principle for a ball bearing. N.B. The diagram shows an 8-balled-bearing whereas a skateboard bearing only has 7


Each skateboard wheel is mounted on its axle via two bearings. With few exceptions, the bearings are the industrial standard "608" size, with a bore of 8 mm, an outer diameter of 22 mm, and a width of 7 mm. These are usually made of steel, though silicon nitride, a high-tech ceramic, is sometimes used. Many skateboard bearings are graded according to the ABEC scale. The scale starts with ABEC1 as the lowest, 3, 5, 7, 9. It is a common misconception that the higher ABECs are better for skateboarding, as the ABEC rating only measures tolerances, which do not necessarily apply to skateboards. The ABEC rating does not determine how fast or how durable a bearing used for skateboarding will be.[3] In particular, the ABEC rating says nothing about how well a bearing handles axial (side-to-side) loads, which are severe in most skateboard applications. Many companies do not show the ABEC rating, such as Bones Bearings, which makes bearings specifically for skateboarding, often marketed as "Skate Rated". These bearings are usually called Swiss (made in Switzerland), ceramic or both and are better for skateboarding. Each bearing usually contains 7 steel or ceramic ball bearings, although other configurations are used as well.


Mounting hardware is a set of eight 10-32 UNC bolts, usually an Allen or Phillips head, and matching nylon locknuts. They are used to attach the trucks to the board. Some have a different colored bolt to show which side is the nose of the skateboard.

Optional components


Risers increase the space between the truck and the deck. This allows the truck to turn further without causing wheel bite (when the wheel touches the deck and stops rotating). Wedges can be used to change the turning characteristics of a truck.[4]


Narrow strips of plastic or metal that are attached under the deck lengthwise along the edges. They are used for additional grip for grabs, and to enhance sliding while protecting the deck's graphics at the same time. Although rarely used anymore, they are useful for experienced skaters that are capable of grabs.

Grip tape

Grip tape is a sheet paper or fabric with adhesive on one side and a surface similar to fine sand paper on the other. Grip tape is applied to the top surface of a board to allow the rider's feet to grip the surface and help the skater stay on the board while doing tricks. Grip tape is usually black, however it is also available in other colors such as red, blue, navy blue, neon green, hi-liter pink, or transparent.

Slip tape

Slip tape is a clear piece of self adhesive plastic that sticks to the underside of a deck. It helps protect the board's graphics and allows the board to slide easier. Another name for this is everslick.


A lapper is a plastic cover that is fastened to the rear truck and serves to protect the kingpin when grinding. It also prevents hang-ups by providing a smoother transition for the truck when it hits an obstacle or a metal pipe or round bar.

Nose guard

A plastic bumper used to protect the front of a skateboard. Used in old school boards.

Tail guard

Is a plastic cover that protects the tail end of the skateboard


Plastic half tubing that protected the axles of the trucks. In the 1980-85 period, stolen shopping cart handles were cut by some to fit as a makeshift coper.[source?]


  1. Has a guide to choosing the right size trucks for a skateboard deck
  2. Contains a list of dimensions for popular longboard truck manufacturer
  4. A guide describing turning characteristics of different Riser/Wedge types

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