Jockeys at Epsom (1861 – 1862) by Edgar Degas

Jockeys at Epsom - Edgar Degas - 1861 - 1862

Artwork Information

TitleJockeys at Epsom
ArtistEdgar Degas
Date1861 - 1862
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Jockeys at Epsom

The artwork “Jockeys at Epsom” by Edgar Degas is a genre painting dating from 1861 to 1862. It is executed in oil on canvas and is representative of the Impressionist movement. Currently, this piece is held in a private collection. The painting exemplifies Degas’ fascination with the world of horse racing, a common subject in his oeuvre, capturing a moment of intensity and movement within this sport.

The artwork unfolds a scene set on a racetrack, presumably at Epsom, renowned for its Derby. Degas masterfully portrays several jockeys mounted on their horses, appearing poised for action. Each jockey is attired in colorful racing silks, with their poses and attire individualized, suggesting movement and a brief pause before the commotion of the race. The horses, rendered with swift brushwork, display strength and elegance, indicative of the dynamic energy of thoroughbreds. In the background, onlookers in dimmer attire gather, some standing and others sitting, as a contrast to the sharp focus on the riders and horses in the foreground. The sky above is overcast, hinting at the English climate and adding a muted backdrop that accentuates the vivid colors of the jockeys’ uniforms.

Degas’ technique involves loose and expressive brushstrokes, typical of the Impressionist style, which aims to capture the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere rather than detailed realism. There’s an evident sense of immediacy and spontaneity in the composition, as if the artist is trying to capture a moment just before it vanishes. This spirit of the moment is a hallmark of Impressionist art and is well articulated in this piece. Although not one of Degas’ ballet or dance-themed works, which he is most famous for, “Jockeys at Epsom” still echoes his fascination with movement and his ability to convey the essence of a scene with rapid and reactive strokes of the brush.

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