The Start of the Hunt 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 created endless artworks that illustrated the beauty of life.

The stunning scenic painting titled The Start Of The Hunt is an oil on canvas piece that showcases limited movement. Edgar Degas is most famously known for his Impressionism paintings of ballerinas. Yet, once in a while Degas would showcase other more scenic pieces as showcased in the painting. The scene illustrates a group of men on their horses, preparing for a hunt. Endless men wearing red coats gather near one another. Their white-collar shirts are evident beneath their orange-red coats. These men then wear beige pants beneath, paired with black riding boots. On top of their heads, these men wear black top hats to do with their look.

It's immensely fascinating how all of these men wear a similar uniform to one another, creating a rather community of beings. There are six horses that graze the canvas. Two black horses, three brown horses, and one white horse. Degas does not use immense detailing throughout the piece to showcase the men and their horses as they are further away. The viewer's eyes do not fall onto one particular individual within the piece, yet rather on the painting as a whole. The bodies of the men and their horses near the right gently merge into one another. The classic element of Impressionism is the limited amount of outlining for each figure. Instead, different figures bleed into one another and slightly merge. This is evidently showcased throughout the piece.

Yet, the viewer attention may fall onto the man near the centre, facing towards the viewer. His body and horse is overall centred as he looks onto the viewer. Perhaps the man is looking at Degas standing there and analyzing the setting. The artist was privileged to be a part of the upper class and be able to attend endless performances and social gatherings. It is through these events that the artist has context onto what to base his work on. As Degas often was not interested in portraying men, alongside outdoor scenery, he seemed to be interested in portraying this piece. At the time, the artist began producing portrait pieces. He felt a shift in his work and looked into incorporating new ideas into his paintings. It is this ideology that has most likely influence the artist to produce The Start Of The Hunt.

Degas sticks to a darker colour scheme throughout the piece. An interesting portion of the piece to note is the sky. Degas had portrayed the sky in a yellow-orange shade, staying away from classic blues. While one may argue that the artist uses this shade to showcase the end of the day and the sunset, it is incorrect as the title explains that the scene is the start of the hunt. As a hunt can only take place when one may see, it is interesting why Degas decided to portray a warm coloured sky. This yellow colour is reflected throughout the painting as dark warm toned fill the greenery. Near the bottom part of the canvas, a gentle meadow of flowers and tall grass fills the ground. While Degas does incorporate green shades, he uses more yellow colours instead. This yellow shade continues throughout the endless valleys in the painting. Degas didn't feel a desire to use cool tones, and instead decided to stick to these warm golden hues.

The scene is rather endless as hills bleed into one another. The horizon is met with the tops of trees and endless hills. As the piece is based on top of a hill, the viewer is able to get a clear view of the landscape. The stunning French outdoors fills the canvas with endless vegetation and hills on top one another.