Son of a Parisian banker, Edgar Degas enrolled in law school in 1853 following his father's wishes. But he had already shown an interest in art and had also registered to copy at the Louvre. In 1855 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts and became a student of Louis Lamothe (1822-1869), a former pupil of Ingres (q.v.). One year later Degas made the traditional journey to Italy, remaining there for three years. He visited family members in Naples and Florence and attended life classes at the Villa Medici in Rome. A visit to Normandy in 1861 may have introduced him to the racetrack. In Paris he continued to study at the Louvre, where he met Manet (q.v.) in 1862. Apart from his continuous interest in portraiture and history painting, Degas began to pay attention to subjects of modern life. Between 1865 and 1870, he exhibited at the Salon. At the time of the Franco-Prussian War, he enlisted in the artillery, but because of his poor eyesight he served (with Manet) in the infantry. After the war he traveled first to London and, in 1872-73, visited his uncle and brothers who had a cotton business in New Orleans. Degas participated in the first impressionist exhibition of 1874. He continued to exhibit with these artists until 1886 but never completely considered himself a member of the group, preferring to call himself a realist or naturalist. While many of the impressionists painted en plein air, Degas worked with models in his studio and, later in his career, from his imagination. In addition to painting, he experimented often with monotypes, engraving, pastels, sculpture, and photography. He traveled extensively-London, Naples, Spain, Morocco, and Switzerland-but continued to draw his subject matter from modern-day Paris. Other recurring themes would be the female nude and the ballet dancer. After the impressionist exhibition of 1886, Degas no longer participated in group shows. Instead he sold his works to private dealers such as Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard. In the 1890s he began his own art collection, which, besides many works on paper, included paintings by such artists as Ingres, Cézanne (q.v.), Delacroix (q.v.), Gauguin (q.v.), and van Gogh (q.v.). His own art at the time became characterized by broader strokes of paint, charcoal, and pastel and the use of more vibrant colors, partly because of problems with his vision. His failing eyesight and poor health caused him to abandon his pursuit of art during the last years of his life.