At the Races (c.1876 – c.1877) by Edgar Degas

At the Races - Edgar Degas - c.1876 - c.1877

Artwork Information

TitleAt the Races
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1876 - c.1877
Art MovementImpressionism

About At the Races

The artwork “At the Races” by Edgar Degas dates back to circa 1876 – 1877 and embodies the Impressionist movement. This oil on canvas genre painting showcases Degas’ fascination with the world of horse racing, a recurring theme in his body of work. His portrayal often reflects both the dynamism of the sport and the leisure activities of Parisian society at the time.

In the painting, Degas captures a moment at the horse races with a close-up perspective on the spectators rather than the event itself, a distinctive approach in his racecourse-themed pieces. The foreground features a woman viewed from behind, with an elaborate hat adorned with a spray of flowers and a veil. Her attire is elegant and detailed, suggesting her status. She is engaged in a conversation with another individual, whose face is partially obscured, adding a sense of intimacy and immediacy to the scene.

The background is loosely brushed in, with hints of greenery and the suggestion of horse and rider, which conveys the sense of place without detracting from the primary focus on the figures. The diffused background also serves to give the viewer an impression of the atmosphere and movement at the races without providing a detailed narrative.

Degas’ technique emphasizes the fleeting effects of light and color characteristic of Impressionist painting, with brisk brushstrokes and a naturalistic color palette. This artwork is a fine example of how Degas blended the tenets of Impressionism with his unique compositional style, focusing on the modern life of Paris.

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