Start of the Race of the Barberi Horses, Rome

Artist: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, Valenciennes 1827–1875 Courbevoie)

Date: 1860

Medium: Pen and ink, watercolor, and gouache on wove paper

Dimensions: 6-7/8 x 11-1/8 inches (17.4 x 28.3 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Purchase, Carl Selden Bequest and Karen B. Cohen Fund, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.105


The race of the riderless Barbieri horses in the Corso was a Roman Carnival tradition that began with the gathering of the horses in the Piazza del Popolo and ended with their capture at the finish. Excited by this spectacle, Carpeaux divested the scene of its contemporary detail and transformed it into a timeless image of men heroically struggling with the rearing animals. The hand of the sculptor is evident in the drawing, where energetic movement and anatomical verisimilitude enliven human and animal bodies.