Manet's Horse Race at Longchamp

Manet's Horse Race at Longchamp
Manet's Horse Race at Longchamp

Several 19th-century French artists were drawn to depicting the world of horses and racetracks that were so in vogue at the time. And they did it for various reasons. Some likeTheodore Gericaultbecause they simply worshiped these animals that he came to make authentic portraits like the White Horse. While other artists such as Degas, were also fascinated by these animals, especially their movements and speed, which he tried to capture in several of his works, just as he did in his famous ballerina works. ballet.

Horse race at Longchamp by Manet

Manet's Horse Race at Longchamp

Curiously, many of the equestrian works made by Edgar Degas were set in the Longchamp Racecourse, the same place where this horse race by another great painter of the time: Edouard Manet.

This is a canvas painted in oil in 1866 and is currently in the Art Institute of Chicago. A work that became the first image in which we see how a group of horses and riders ride at full speed and directly towards the viewer, as if they were going to run over him. It is as ifManethad stood with his easel in the center of the ring. A completely revolutionary perspective and that had not been seen until then. But yesthis canvas is tremendously innovative, he also made a much more daring lithograph with the same type of scene and framing.

This lithograph the first sensation that it provokes in us is that of being a simple doodle, some confused forms, in which only a few indications finally give the impression of light, movement and speed.

We see how the horses run towards us, while the spectators attending the racetrack are crowding the stands and it is impossible to recognize a complete and defined human figure.

That whirlpool of people can also be seen on the canvas, in which we can distinguish the horses, but none of them can see their four legs.

And curiously enough, it is a tremendously “realistic” painting in the way that Manet conceives it, since when we look at it we can only focus our eyes on one point of the image, while the rest of the scene is very confused. However, we know perfectly well what the rest is like and mentally we are all capable of putting it back together. This is why Manet is a realist and impressionist painter at the same time, in short, a brilliant and unique artist.

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