Jockeys before the Start with Flagpoll (1879) by Edgar Degas

Jockeys before the Start with Flagpoll - Edgar Degas - 1879

Artwork Information

TitleJockeys before the Start with Flagpoll
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions180 x 74 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationBarber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, UK

About Jockeys before the Start with Flagpoll

The artwork titled “Jockeys before the Start with Flagpoll” is a notable example of the Impressionist movement, created by the adept hand of Edgar Degas in 1879. This genre painting, rendered on a unique medium of cardboard, measures 180 by 74 cm and can be found at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, UK. Degas’ piece is a testament to his fascination with the world of horseracing and captures the subtle nuances of this dynamic milieu.

In the artwork, Degas presents a scene with three jockeys on their thoroughbred horses, poised moments before the commencement of a race. A flagpole bisects the composition, which is unconventional yet characteristic of Degas’ exploratory style. The artist employs a luminous color palette, where the hazy, light-drenched background contrasts with the detailed figures in the foreground, imbuing the scene with a sense of immediacy and the fleeting nature of the moment.

The foreground is dominated by a jockey dressed in white, who is turned towards the viewer, engendering a direct and engaging narrative element. The jockey’s calm, focused demeanor is juxtaposed with the apparent movement of the horses, which seem restless and eager to launch into the race. The nuanced brushwork, the treatment of light, and the vibrant depiction of movement reaffirm Degas’ position as a master of capturing life’s ephemeral qualities. This artwork melds the grace of the equine form with the palpable tension of sportsmanship, enveloping the viewer in a snapshot of anticipation that defines the racing experience.

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