Edgar Degas (Paris, 1834 – 1917) abandoned his law studies in order to follow his artistic vocation. In 1853 he entered the studio of painter Louis Lamonthe, disciple of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Two years later he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts [School of Fine Arts], which he subsequently left in order to move to Italy and train on a self-taught basis. In 1859 he returned to Paris where he began a period making history paintings and portraits before starting a second period of more contemporary compositions focused on ballet scenes, cafés, bathers, and ironers.
Around 1868 he became a regular at the gatherings presided over by Édouard Manet at the Café Guerboi and established relationships with Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissaro, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. In 1870, as a consequence of his participation in the Franco-Prussian War, he suffered an eye injury that degenerated progressively. In 1874 he took part in the first of the eight independent exhibitions organized by the Impressionist group outside of the official Salons. That same year the death of his father plunged him into a severe economic crisis that pushed him into solitude and depression. During this last period he collected the works of contemporary artists, frequently through trades, and managed to assemble an important collection.