Before the Race (1882) by Edgar Degas

Before the Race - Edgar Degas - 1882

Artwork Information

TitleBefore the Race
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions26.5 x 34.9 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationClark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, US

About Before the Race

The artwork “Before the Race” was created by Edgar Degas in 1882. The piece is an oil painting on panel that measures 26.5 by 34.9 centimeters. It belongs to the genre painting category and stands as a notable example of Impressionism. The original painting is currently housed in the Clark Art Institute located in Williamstown, MA, USA.

“Before the Race” depicts a scene of jockeys atop their horses, presumably in the moments leading up to a horse race. Degas has orchestrated the composition so that the viewer feels the anticipation and restlessness before the impending event. The brushwork is loose and expressive, characteristic of the Impressionist style, conveying a sense of movement and immediacy. Each jockey is attired in vibrant racing silks that contrast brightly against the muted tones of the landscape and sky, drawing attention to the central figures of the scene. There is a dynamic sense of movement and spontaneity in the artwork, which captures the jockeys’ varied postures and the muscular tension of the horses. Degas’ artistry is evident in the way he translates the energy of the pre-race atmosphere onto the panel, merging the fleeting play of light with the fluidity of motion, encapsulating a momentary snapshot of life with vigorous intensity.

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