barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)

Jockeys Before the Race

Paris, exhibited 1879


Oil, essence, bodycolour and pastel on paper

 

Degas’ racing pictures generally concentrate on the undramatic moments before the start.

Here, the starting-post bisects the composition, creating an instantaneous effect, suggestive of a snapshot. Figures and horses are obscured, cut by the frame and shown with the random feel of a fleeting glimpse.

The unconventional composition is matched by an experimental technique mixing oil, bodycolour, pastel and essence (oil thinned with turpentine). The overall lack of finish, with some quite accidental areas, challenged accepted conventions when the painting was shown at the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition.

 

Purchased 1950 (No. 50.2)

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