Edgar Degas (French, 18341917)
Bronze, number 49/A; 8 5/8 x 10 7/8 x 5 in. (20.3 x 27.6 x 12.7 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.428)
Eadweard Muybridge's photograph, part of a sequence titled "Abe Edgington" Trotting at a 2:24 Gain over the Palo Alto Track, 15th June, 1878, revealed for the first time that there is a moment when all four hooves of a trotting horse leave the ground at once. Although the sequential photograph was not widely published until much later, the discovery of this previously unobserved phenomenon caused an immediate sensation. During the 1880s, Muybridge toured Europe with a projecting device and lantern slides of his sequential photographs demonstrating that artists had throughout the ages misrepresented the true movement of a trotting horse. Degas' bronze horse is supported by a post; all four hooves are in the air, and the position of each leg faithfully reproduces the attitude of the horses in the top right photograph of Muybridge's 1878 sequence.