At the Races. the Start (1861 – 1862) by Edgar Degas

At the Races. the Start - Edgar Degas - 1861 - 1862

Artwork Information

TitleAt the Races. the Start
ArtistEdgar Degas
Date1861 - 1862
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationFogg Museum (Harvard Art Museums), Cambridge, MA, US

About At the Races. the Start

The artwork titled “At the Races. The Start” is a genre painting by the renowned artist Edgar Degas, created during the years 1861-1862. It’s executed in oil on canvas and is associated with the Impressionist art movement. Currently, this painting is housed at the Fogg Museum, part of the Harvard Art Museums, located in Cambridge, MA, USA.

The artwork depicts a moment before the commencement of a horse race. Central to the composition are the poised racehorses with their jockeys clad in colorful racing silks. The jockeys appear ready and attentive, possibly listening for the signal to begin the race. A sense of anticipation permeates the scene, underscored by the stretches of the restless horses and the focused postures of the riders. To the right of the painting, we see a flagpole marking the start, with a person holding a flag, likely indicating the imminence of the race’s initiation.

The background is populated by a scattered assembly of spectators, some on foot, others mounted on complementary horses, and a few groups in carriages. The sky above is overcast, adding a dramatic quality to the ambiance and suggesting the variable weather conditions typical of open-air events. Degas’s brushwork demonstrates the characteristic looseness and vivacity of Impressionism, capturing the movement and energy of the scene while also rendering fine details such as the attire of the figures and the textures of the landscape.

This painting is a compelling example of Degas’s interest in the dynamism of modern life and his ability to convey movement and social interaction within his art.

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