Semiramis Building Babylon (1861) by Edgar Degas

Semiramis Building Babylon - Edgar Degas - 1861

Artwork Information

TitleSemiramis Building Babylon
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions151 x 258 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris, France

About Semiramis Building Babylon

The artwork “Semiramis Building Babylon” is a history painting by Edgar Degas, created in 1861. This work is executed in oil on canvas and measures 151 by 258 centimeters. Although Degas is commonly associated with the Impressionist movement, this particular piece predates his full involvement in that style. The painting is part of the collection housed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

The artwork depicts the legendary Assyrian queen Semiramis, known for her association with the city of Babylon. She stands prominently in the foreground, arrayed in white, overseeing the construction of the ancient city. Around her, various figures partake in the construction, including laborers and attendants. They are clad in attire suggestive of the era, with some carrying building materials and others managing horses. The urban landscape of Babylon stretches into the distance, shrouded in a hazy atmosphere that imparts a dreamlike quality to the scene. The left portion of the canvas is energetically populated by figures and architectural elements, while the right side opens up to the developing cityscape. The painting is imbued with a sense of grandeur and historical narrative, capturing the viewer’s imagination about the mythic past.

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