Before the Race (c.1882 – c.1884) by Edgar Degas

Before the Race - Edgar Degas - c.1882 - c.1884

Artwork Information

TitleBefore the Race
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1882 - c.1884
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Before the Race

The artwork titled “Before the Race” was created by the renowned artist Edgar Degas approximately between the years 1882 and 1884. This piece is executed in oil on panel and is a quintessential example of the genre painting style within the Impressionist movement. The original painting is currently held in a private collection.

The artwork depicts a scene focused on horse racing, a subject Degas frequently returned to, capturing the dynamic energy and movement typical of the racing milieu. In the composition, several jockeys are mounted on their horses, which are portrayed with energetic brushstrokes that convey motion and liveliness. The horses appear to be in various states of readiness, either being led or controlled by their riders. The use of color is restrained, yet effective, with the warm tones of the earth and the horses’ bodies dominating the scene, while the jockey’s attire provides subtle contrasts. The background is minimally detailed, allowing the viewer to concentrate fully on the figures in the foreground.

The technique employed by Degas is reflective of the Impressionist style, characterized by loose brushwork that suggests the forms and textures rather than defining them with precise detail. This approach creates a sense of immediacy and captures the fleeting moments before a race, offering a glimpse into the anticipation and preparatory actions prevalent in equestrian sports. The artwork successfully conveys the sense of anticipation and tells a story of the moments leading up to the intense rush of the race that follows.

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