Race Horses

Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)

Date: ca. 1885–88

Medium: Pastel on wood

Dimensions: 11 7/8 x 16 in. (30.2 x 40.6 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1999, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002

Accession Number: 1999.288.3


Degas undertook racing scenes throughout his career, characteristically manipulating his horses and jockeys from one picture to the next. All the figures here appear in earlier works, and some of the poses have pedigrees even more distinguished than the horses: the prancing mount and rider at the center derive from Benozzo Gozzoli's Journey of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence, which Degas had copied in 1859. This picture is nevertheless unusual for its medium—pastel on a plain, unvarnished panel. With skillful economy of means, Degas allowed the wood to color the sky and distant landscape, and to provide a warm undertone for the turf in the foreground.