On the Racecourse (c.1860 – c.1862) by Edgar Degas

On the Racecourse - Edgar Degas - c.1860 - c.1862

Artwork Information

TitleOn the Racecourse
ArtistEdgar Degas
Datec.1860 - c.1862
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationKunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland

About On the Racecourse

The artwork titled “On the Racecourse” is a creation by Edgar Degas, dating from approximately 1860 to 1862. Crafted using oil on canvas, “On the Racecourse” can be classified within the Impressionist movement, a genre painting that now resides at the Kunstmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland.

As for the artwork’s composition, it presents a lively scene from a racecourse. The foreground is dominated by a cluster of well-dressed figures, including several gentlemen and ladies on horseback and in carriages, notable for the era’s distinct attire featuring top hats and full skirts. The attire and the poses of the figures convey a sense of casual observation and social interaction, rather than the excitement typically associated with the racing event itself. In the midground, we see horses and jockeys actively engaged in a race, adding dynamism to the scene. The racecourse is characterized by a grassy field which recedes to a distant horizon under a broad, overcast sky, and there is a noticeable serene landscape that forms the backdrop. The entire scene has a pastoral charm, underscored by the soft, diffused lighting, which is a hallmark of the Impressionist style, emphasizing the effect of natural light and color over detail. Degas’ loose brushwork and the unconventional composition, cropping figures and focusing as much on the social aspect of the event as on the race itself, are reflective of the innovative approach typical of the Impressionist movement.

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