Racehorses in a Landscape

Edgar Degas

Caballos de carreras en un paisaje

Degas, Edgar

París, 1834 - 1917

Racehorses in a Landscape, 1894

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Signed & dated lower left: ''Degas/94''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.

Pastel on paper

47,9 x 62,9 cm

CTB.1981.11

Artwork history

  • Durand-Ruel, París, August 18, 1894. Adquired from the artist 5.000 francs (n. 3116)

  • Durand-Ruel, New York, February 27, 1895. Adquired at Durand-Ruel, París, by 12.000 francs

  • Mr. & Mrs.  H. O. Havemeyer, New York, March 30,  1895. Adquired at  Durand-Ruel, New York (1907)

  • Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York, 1907-1929

  • Her daughter Electra Havemeyer Webb, New York, 1929-1960

  • Her daughter Electra Webb Bostwick, New York, 1960

  • Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, 1981

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano, 1981

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

1922

Exposición, Nueva York, The Groller Club, n. 72

1936

Degas 1834-1917, Filadelfia (PA), The Pennsylvania Museum of Art, n. 53

1960

Degas, Nueva York, Wildenstein Gallery, n. 62

1984

Edgar Degas. Pastelle. Oelskizzen, Zeichnungen, Tubinga, Kunsthalle Tübingen; Berlín, Nationalgalerie, n. 192, pp. 72, 390

1984

Modern Masters from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokio, National Museum of Modern Art; Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, n. 10, p. 135, lám. p. 26

1984

Modern Masters from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Londres, Royal Academy of Arts, n. 10

1985

Maestri dell'arte moderna nella Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Florencia, Palazzo Pitti, n. 10, p. 139, lám. p. 28

1985 - 1986

Maîtres Modernes de la Collection Thyssen-Bornemisza, París, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, n. 10, p. 147, lám. p. 36

1986

Maestros modernos de la Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Salas Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Biblioteca Nacional, Ministerio de Cultura; Barcelona, Palau de la Virreina, n. 10, p. 150, lám. p. 32

1988 - 1989

Degas, París, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais; Ottawa, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Nueva York (NY), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n. 306, pp. 511-512, lám.

1990

Impressionismo e Postimpressionismo. Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza / Impressionismus und Postimpressionismus. Sammlung Thyssen-Bornemisza, Lugano, Villa Favorita, n. 9, p. 32, lám. p. 33

1993

Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, Nueva York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n. 255, pp. 337-338, lám. 46, p. 43

1998

Degas at the Races, Washington (DC), National Gallery of Art, n. 98, p. 150

1999

Do impresionismo ó fauvismo: A pintura do cambio de século en París. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, n. 5, p. 38, lám. p. 39

1999 - 2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya, p. 40, lám. p. 41

2001 - 2002

Forma. El ideal clásico en el arte moderno, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 19, p. 204, lám. p. 71

2003

Degas e gli italiani a Parigi, Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, n. 60, p. 320

2014 - 2015

Degas. Klassik und Experiment, Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle, n. 100, pp. 224-225, lám. p. 224

2016 - 2017

Degas: A New Vision. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. October16, 2016-January 8, 2017. p. 184.

2019 - 2020

Tocar el color. La renovación del pastel. Sala Fundación Mapfre. Casa Garriga Nogués, Barcelona. Cat. 53, p. 164, 165 & cover.

  • -Grappe, G.: ”Degas”.  L’Art et le Beau. 1911, vol. 1, n. 3 , p. 36, lám.

  • -Meier-Graefe, Julius: Degas: ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Malerei. Múnich, Piper, 1920 , lám. 91.

  • -Alexander, A.: ”La Collection Havemeyer”. La Renaissance. October 1929, vol. 12 , p. 484, lám.

  • -H. O. Havemeyer Collection. Portland (ME), 1931, p. 378, lám.

  • -Lemoisne, P. A.: Degas et son oeuvre. París, P. Brame et C. M. de Hauke, 1946 , vol. 3, n. 1145, p. 664, lám. p. 665.

  • -Cabanne, Pierre: Edgar Degas. París, Pierre Tisné, [1957] , pp. 30, 116, lám. 106.

  • -Serullaz, M.: Les Peintres Impressionnistes. París, 1959, p. 109, lám.

  • -Havemeyer, L.: Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, p. 257.

  • -Russoli, Franco, y Minervino, Fiorella: L’Opera completa di Degas. Milán, Rizzoli, 1970 , n. 1164, lám.

  • -Terrasse, Antoine: Edgar Degas. Frankfurt, Ullstein, 1981 , n. 590, lám.

  • -Busch, G.: ”Ballett und Galopp im Zeichentrick”.  Welt am Sonntag. April 8, 1984 , lám.

  • -Adriani, Götz: Degas. Pastelle, Ölskizzen, Zeichnungen. [Exhib. Cat. Tubinga, Kunsthalle Tübingen – Berlín, Nationalgalerie]. Colonia, DuMont, 1984. [Ed. ing.: New York, Abbeville Press, 1985] , n. 192, p. 390, lám. p. 72.

  • -Degas. Le modelé et l’espace. París, Centre Culturel du Marais, 1984-85, p. 126, lám. 108 p. 127.

  • -Modern Masters from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokio, National Museum of Modern Art; Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, Exhib. Cat. Japan], 1984, n. 10, p. 135, lám. p. 26.

  • -Modern Masters from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Londres, Royal Academy of Arts, [Exhib. Cat. Londres], 1984  n. 10.

  • -Maestri dell’arte moderna nella Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Florencia, Palazzo Pitti, [Exhib. Cat. Palazzo, Pitti], 1985, n. 10, p. 139, lám. p. 28.

  • -Maîtres Modernes de la Collection Thyssen-Bornemisza, París, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, [Exhib. Cat. París], 1985, n. 10, p. 147, lám. p. 36.

  • -Sutton, Denys: Degas. Vie et oeuvre. Friburgo, Office du Livre, 1986 , n. 132, p. 148, lám. p. 152.

  • -Weitzenhoffer, F.: The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, p. 102, lám. 53.

  • -Maestros modernos de la Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Salas Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Biblioteca Nacional, Ministerio de Cultura; Barcelona, Palau de la Virreina, [Exhib. Cat.], 1986, n. 10, p. 150, lám. p. 32.

  • Degas. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris 9 février-16 mai 1988. Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa 16 juin-28 août 1988. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 27 septembre 1988-8 janvier 1989. Boggs, Jean Sutherland … [et al.]. [Exhib. Cat. París, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais; Ottawa, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Nueva York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art ]. París, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1988 , n. 306, pp. 488, 511-512, lám. [Sheet by Jean Sutherland Boggs]

  • -Whitfield, Sarah: Impressionismo e Postimpressionismo. Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Exhib. Cat. Lugano, Villa Favorita]. Lugano, Fondazione Thyssen-Bornemisza – Milán, Electa, 1990. [Ed. al. e ing.] , p. 32, lám. p. 33 [Sheet by Sarah Whitfield]

  • -Schneiders, T.: Edgar Degas. Kirchdorf, 1990, p. 111, lám. p. 33.

  • -Boggs, Jean Sutherland y Maheux, A.: Degas Pastels. New York, 1992 , n. 47, pp. 132-233, lám.

  • -Kendall, Richard: Degas landscapes. [Exhib. Cat.]. New Haven, Yale University Press in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,1993, n. 207, pp. 235 (lám.), 236 y 239 (detail).

  • -Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen . (et al.) [Exhib. Cat..]. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993 , n. A255, pp. 43 (lám.) 217, 337-338.

  • -Tinterow, Gary: “The Havemeyer Pictures”.  Nueva York 1993, pp. 3-53, n. A255, p. 47, fig. 46 p. 43.

  • -Boggs, Jean Sutherland … [et al.]: Degas at the Races. [Exhib. Cat.]. Washington (DC), National Gallery of Art – New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998 , n. 98, pp. 159 (lám.), 160, 258-259.

  • Do Impresionismo ó Fauvismo: a pintura do cambio de século en París. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. ].Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 1999, p. 38, lám. p. 39 [Sheet by Rondald Pickvance]

  • -Llorens, Tomás: “El ideal clásico en el arte moderno”.  Madrid 2001-2002. pp. 32-201, cit. p. 68, n. 19, lám. p. 71.

  • -Llorens, Tomàs: Forma: el ideal clásico en el arte moderno. [Exhib. Cat.  2001-2002]. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2001.

  • -Dumas, Ann (ed.): Degas e gli italiani a Parigi. [Exhib. Cat.  Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti]. Ferrara, Ferrara Arte, 2003 , p. 320, lám. p. 321 [Sheet by Francesca Castellani]

  • Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 24, lám. p. 25 [Sheet by Richard R. Brettell]

  • -Dumas, Ann: “Degas, the secret landscapist”. Columbus/Copenhague 2006-2007, pp. 9-31, cit. p. 26, fig. 31 p. 29.

  • -Dumas, Ann … [et al]: Edgar Degas: The Last Landscapes. [Exhib. Cat. Columbus, Columbus Museum of Art; Copenhague, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek]. London-New York, Merrell, 2006.

  • -Kinsman, Jane: “The races”. Camberra 2008-2009, pp. 59-63, fig. p. 62.

  • -Kinsman, Jane. [et al.]: Degas: The Uncontested Master. [Exhib. Cat.]. Camberra, National Gallery of Australia, 2008.

  • -Borobia, Mar y Alarcó, Paloma (eds.): Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Obras escogidas. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2011, p. 186, lám. p. 187.

  • -Prat, Louis-Antoine: Le Dessin français au XIXe siècle. París, Somogy éditions d’art, 2011, n. 1290, pp. 536 (lám.), 537 y 655.

  • -Alarcó, P. y Borobia, M. (eds.): Guía de la colección. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2012, p. 260, lám. p. 261.

  • -Eiling, Alexander [ed.]: Degas. Klassik und Experiment. [Exhib. Cat. Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle]. Múnich, Hirmer, 2014, pp. 224-225, lám. p. 224 [Sheet by Alexander Eiling]

  • -Degas: A New Vision. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, MFA, 2016, p. 184. (Exhib. Cat.).

  • -El Thyssen en el plato. La colección interpretada por 25 grandes chefs. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2018. p. 102 (detail), 103 & 119.

  • -Tocar el color. La renovación del pastel. Sala Fundación Mapfre. Casa Garriga Nogués, Barcelona. [Exhib. Cat. Fundación Mapfre], Barcelona, Fundación Mapfre, 2019. Cat. 53, p. 164, 165 & cover.

Expert report

Edgar Degas, like his colleague, Renoir was not at all averse to signing the works he completed, but, also like Renoir, he rarely dated them. This decision liberates his commentators and critics to propose sequences of works that can “order” his working process. Indeed, a good deal of the Degas literature in the past generation has been devoted to his working methods, and reading many of its most sophisticated authors is not unlike reading a detailed cook book or a “how-to” manual. This imbalance is not without justification, because the artist himself was all but obsessed with technical matters, inventing “modus operandi” for art making that are among the most complex and inventive in the entire history of Western art. Yet, it has created a condition in which Degas’ oeuvre is thought of in terms of sequences and series rather than as an oeuvre of separate, individual works with their own identity.

This masterpiece in pastel is surely one of those. Its evident signature and date have already been remarked on, and they indicate an unusual level of finish. This was surely intentional, as Degas was actively building his collection in the mid 1890s and was, hence, always in need of money to buy works of art by artists from El Greco to Gauguin. This pastel was purchased immediately from the artist by his dealer Durand-Ruel and sold quickly to the great American collector of Degas, Louisine Havemeyer, who had formed one of the great Degas collections in history. With its outdoor setting and its horserace subject, this beautiful pastel would fit wonderfully into the study or smoking room of a wealthy gentleman collector such as Horace Havemeyer. This is most likely precisely where it went.

Jean Sutherland Boogs wrote sensitively about this work in the monumental Degas catalogue produced by the Reunion des Musees Nationaux, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Metropolitan Museum in 1988-1989. She noted that it was made in Degas’ sixtieth year and also that it derived from another signed and dated pastel produced precisely ten years earlier, when the artist was fifty. Hence it has an elegiac quality, of being more a memory than an observed scene, and Boggs pointed to the fact that its landscape setting derived a good deal of its subtlety and mystery from the large group of landscape colour monotypes that Degas had exhibited at Durand-Ruel galleries the previous year. Where, we are forced to ask, are these horses racing? Who are their spectators? Why are they so elaborately and formally dressed if they are alone? When we ask these questions, we realise how far we have come from the tradition of the outdoor horserace picture invented in England in the late 18thcentury and brought to France by Delacroix and Bonington in the 1820s. In these paintings, we see actual races with actual spectators set into landscapes that have little positive character of their own. Here, as Degas broods at the onset of his sixties, he sets these horses in a vast and empty mountainous landscape tinged pink by the rising or setting sun. There is a dark forested valley below them. Will some of them ride into it and disappear?

It is also interesting to note the brilliant hues that Degas used as if they are spices in an exotic visual stew. Although he had already become a brilliant colourist, he had only recently learned dramatic and new chromatic lessons from the Tahitian paintings of Paul Gauguin, at least one of which, The Moon and the Earth (New York, Museum of Modern Art), he had bought in November of 1893. How brilliant he was as collector to buy Gauguin just as he bought El Greco, Ingres, and Delacroix.

Richard R. Brettell