Young Spartans Exercising (1860) by Edgar Degas

Young Spartans Exercising - Edgar Degas - 1860

Artwork Information

TitleYoung Spartans Exercising
ArtistEdgar Degas
Dimensions109.2 x 154.3 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationNational Gallery, London, UK

About Young Spartans Exercising

The artwork titled “Young Spartans Exercising” is an oil on canvas painting by the artist Edgar Degas, created in the year 1860. It is an example of the Impressionist movement, despite being created before the movement was officially recognized. The painting, which measures 109.2 by 154.3 cm, belongs to the genre of history painting and is currently housed in the National Gallery in London, United Kingdom.

In “Young Spartans Exercising,” Degas depicts a group of Spartan youths engaged in a display of physical strength and agility, embodying the historic ideal of Spartan discipline and athleticism. A row of young women stands to the left, seemingly taunting or encouraging the exercises of the male figures opposite them. In the background, a group of older spectators watches the scene, highlighting the communal aspect of physical education in Spartan society. The landscape is rendered with soft earthy tones, suggesting the color and light of an open plain, with a mountain rising distantly, contributing to a sense of serene grandeur and natural beauty.

The figures themselves show a classical influence in their poses, but with Degas’ unique style, which would later become one of the hallmarks of Impressionism. These features combined with the choice of subject matter make the artwork a compelling interpretation of historical themes through a modern, emerging artistic lens of the 19th century.

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