19.07.

1834: Birth of Anti-Semitic Painter Edgar Degas

1834: Birth of Anti-Semitic Painter Edgar Degas
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 19 July 1834
  • Degas’s famous ballerina paintings are widely known even today. It is interesting that he was born under the name De Gas, which usually implies nobility.

On this day one of the greatest impressionist painters in history, Edgar Degas, was born. His ballerina paintings are widely known even today.

It is interesting that he was born under the surname De Gas, which sounds like an aristocratic surname (the word “de” in French surnames usually, but not always, implies a noble heritage). His father was a banker and his mother was a Creole from New Orleans (the Creoles are the descendants of French immigrants in America).

Edgar grew up to be a master painter, but was known for his rather strange personality. He never married, and some even called him a misanthrope.

He was extremely conservative in his political views and also rejected technological innovations such as telephones. He was also extremely intolerant regarding religion. For example, he once allegedly fired one of his female models when he found out that she was a Protestant.

When the infamous Dreyfus affair took place in France a Jew was accused of espionage, which prompted Degas to become an even greater anti-Semite and he publically denounced his Jewish friends. He even refused to employ models whom he suspected of being Jewish. Such anti-Semitism wasn’t uncommon in France at that time.

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