France, around 1890
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) – one of the most important exponents of French impressionism, who is mainly known for his ballet scenes and representations of the racecourse
Verso with the red stamp ‘Atelier Ed. Degas’ (Frits Lugt, Marques de Collection, no. 657)
Sheet size: 32.8 x 50 cm
Provenance: acquired from Auktion Kornfeld, Bern; thereafter Private Collection Southern Germany
A detailed study with horses in different positions; his drawings of horses fetch over 280,000 Euros at international auctions
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) created the present pencil drawing around 1890. The detailed study depicts horses in different positions. A horse lifting his left foreleg rendered in delicate strokes is depicted in the center. The body is worked out in detail whilst the head is only roughly outlined. Further sketches rendered in free, dynamic lines are presented left and right. There are numerous studies of horses by Degas, who remained faithful to depicting racing scenes throughout his career. In the second half of the 19th century, racetracks were popular outings for the Parisian bourgeoisie. Inspired by the lifestyle of his contemporaries, the subject allowed the artist to study shapes and movement, which he captured in his sketches.
The work is in good condition. It shows a smoothed vertical fold in the left third of the sheet and a tiny loss in the lower left corner. The lower margin shows two carefully restored tears (1 and 3 cm), the upper edge shows three tears (0.5 cm and twice 4 cm, one of them restored). The paper is slightly unevenly toned. The work is marked with the red stamp ‘Atelier Ed. Degas’ (Frits Lugt, Marques de Collection, no. 657) on the verso. The sheet size is 32.8 x 50 cm.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Edgar Degas first studied law, but soon abandoned his studies to pursue a career as an artist. From 1853 onwards he took lessons from Louis Lamothe, one of Ingres’ students. He briefly attended the École des Beaux-Art, but then decided to continue his artistic training on his own. He copied ancient reliefs and the old masters in the museums of Paris. In 1856 Degas took a study trip to Italy. Upon his return to Paris three years later, he worked primarily as a portrait painter and created several history paintings before consecrate to contemporary Parisian life as his preferred subject matter. Degas rejected plein air painting, instead he worked in his studio with models or from drawings. His models were mainly women, often from lower social classes. In addition, he also depicted social scenes on the racecourse, at the museum or the theater. But Degas’ most popular theme were the ballet dancers. His oeuvre is defined by drawings and pastels, but he also created sculptures and developed an interest in photography in the 1890s. Thanks to the support of his gallerist Paul Durand-Ruel, his works found appreciation amongst collectors early on. The most important collections of works by Edgar Degas are nowadays held in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
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