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Edgar Degas



And They’re Off!
Edgar Degas<br>French, 1834-1917<br><I>Galloping Horse</I>, modeled about 1890, cast about 1926<br>Bronze<br>The David Draper Dayton Fund
zoom Edgar Degas
French, 1834-1917
Galloping Horse, modeled about 1890, cast about 1926
Bronze
The David Draper Dayton Fund

 

In 1857 the Longchamps racetrack opened at the Bois de Boulogne, a popular park in Paris. Horse racing was very fashionable among the elite, especially men. In fact, the races were the highlight of the social season. As a member of the upper class, Degas visited the track frequently. It became an important subject for his art.

Degas wanted to capture the movements of the horses and jockeys. At the track, he watched them with fascination, making sketches and jotting down notes. He also studied photographs of horses, in particular those by Eadweard Muybridge, who did a series of horses in motion in the 1870s and 1880s.

The original Galloping Horse was probably made of wax and clay. When Degas’s sculptures were discovered in his studio after his death, many were beginning to deteriorate. As a way to preserve them, his heirs had a series of bronze casts made from seventy-two of the small sculptures. Twenty-some bronzes were made of each figure.


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1. Muybridge’s photographs show in detail the movements of a galloping horse.
Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion, plate 637, 1887, collotype, gift of Samuel C. Gale, William H. Hinkle, Albert Loring, Charles M. Loring, Charles J. Martin, and Charles Alfred Pillsbury
2. Degas stopped making horse sculptures in the 1890s and focused on dancers and bathers.
Edgar Degas, Woman in a Bathtub, modeled 1890, cast 1920-21, no. 26/C, bronze, gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton
3. Manet was another Impressionist artist who liked to go to the racetrack.
Edouard Manet, The Races, about 1869, lithograph, gift of Bruce B. Dayton, by exchange

 

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April 2009