Before the Race

c. 1887–89
(French, 1834–1917)
Support: Tracing paper mounted to cardboard
Sheet: 57.5 x 65.4 cm (22 5/8 x 25 3/4 in.)
Catalogue raisonné: Lemoisne 755
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

When creating the series to which this pastel belongs, Edgar Degas was inspired by the 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who attempted to record motion in static images.


Degas returned to the theme of horse and rider time and again throughout his career. Scholars believe that he executed the first version of this composition of four jockeys on horseback in a charcoal and pastel drawing. Several years later, he traced the composition, reversing its orientation to create the highly finished Cleveland pastel. The palette is intensified, the distance between the second and third jockeys is increased, and the foliage along the horizon has been added to suggest a lush spring day.
Before the Race

Before the Race

c. 1887–89

Edgar Degas

(French, 1834–1917)
France, 19th century

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