At the Races - The Start Edgar Degas Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Edgar Degas was a brilliant artist able to manifest a story onto canvas through his use of brush strokes. The painting At the Races belongs to a collection of landscape paintings by the artist.

Similar paintings include On The Racecourse, and The Start Of The Hunt. Both pieces illustrate a lively outdoor scene filled with men upon their horses. These beautiful paintings showcase the lifestyle of the upper-class wealthy Parisians whom enjoyed outdoor activities as part of social gatherings. Degas was granted access to the upper-class lifestyle through his status as an artist. While Degas is well known for his work showcasing ballerinas in their dance, he often dappled within other realms of art such as this scenic painting. The painting illustrates a group of men gathering near one another at the start of their horse race. Since the style of the artwork is impressionism, these men group together near one another as they're off to the races. The dark horses bleed into one another, making it difficult for the viewer to make out their form exactly.

The painting is covered in an array of dark colours that fill the canvas. It's interesting to note however that the artist decided to colour the men on their horses in brighter tones to seize the viewer's attention. As there is an ample amount of imagery going on through the piece, itÕs key for Degas to captivate the viewer to one particular point. The race men are dressed in colourful shirts painted in yellow, blues, reds, and lavender. These men are also accessorized in hats that cover their head. They wear pale egg coloured riding pants, alongside brown leather riding boots that bleed into the fur of their horse. To the right side of the men, the viewer can spot a man waving a red flag to commence the race.

The man in charge of initiating the fight is dressed in a model black suit jacket and brown pants. Behind the man it is interesting to notice the audience looking at the men as they prepare to race. This was a spectacular moment for the people in attendance as this was a wonderful form of entertainment. Endless women stand in long white gowns alongside men in black suits. It's fascinating to note how fancy the audience is dressed for their social event in the country side. the viewer can also spot various horses and carriages among the people. While Degas makes the right side of the audience quite clear through his use of light, to the left the audience is covered in darkened tones.

It's fascinating to watch the artist create an incredible contrast throughout the painting. As the right side is illuminated while the left side is shaded created impeccable depth throughout the piece. The colour tones used throughout also hold a darkened energy throughout the piece alongside. The landscape continues to unfold in green hills towards the horizon near the piece. The view can spot a grand body of water near the right of the canvas that leads into a city filled with tall buildings. The city is most likely Paris as the group of people venture off into the country side. The relative proximity to the city makes it clear that the audience was able to attend quite easily without having to travel to great of a distance.