At the Races – Before the Start (c.1885 – c.1892) by Edgar Degas

At the Races - Before the Start - Edgar Degas - c.1885 - c.1892

Artwork Information

TitleAt the Races - Before the Start
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1885 - c.1892
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationVirginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, US

About At the Races - Before the Start

The artwork titled “At the Races – Before the Start” is a work by artist Edgar Degas, created approximately between 1885 and 1892. It is executed in oil on canvas and is representative of the Impressionism art movement, specifically falling under the genre painting category. The artwork is housed in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, located in Richmond, Virginia, USA, where it remains part of their distinguished collection.

The painting by Degas captures a quiet, anticipatory moment at the racetrack, with several jockeys astride their mounts. The composition focuses on the horizontal line of horses and riders, stretched across the canvas, conveying a sense of stillness before the burst of energy that a race would demand. The artwork is marked by Degas’ characteristic loose brushwork and his study of movement and light, which are hallmarks of the Impressionist style. The background of the artwork is relatively subdued, featuring a wide expanse that suggests an open outdoor environment, while the foreground emphasizes the distinct figures and the dynamic, yet restrained, postures of the horses. The jockeys are clad in their respective racing silks, adding splashes of color that animate the otherwise calm scene. Degas’ interest in capturing moments of daily life, particularly those related to entertainment and leisure, is evident in this work, reflecting his broader fascination with modern Parisian life.

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