Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
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Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Cheval au galop sur le pied droit

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Cheval au galop sur le pied droit
stamped with the signature 'Degas' (Lugt 658), numbered and stamped with the foundry mark 47/HER CIRE PERDUE A.A.HÉBRARD
bronze with dark brown patina
12 in. (30.5 cm.)
Original wax model executed circa late 1880s - 1890s; cast from 1920-1921 by the A.A. Hbrard foundry in an edition of twenty, numbered A to T, plus two casts reserved for the Degas heirs and the founder
The Hbrard family, Paris.
Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Paris.
Acquired by the present owner in the 1960s.
Exh. cat., Exposition des sculptures de Degas, Galerie A.A. Hébrard, Paris, May - June 1921, no. 47 (another cast exhibited).
J. Rewald, Degas, Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. VI, p. 19 (another cast illustrated p. 35).
J. Rewald, Degas's Sculpture, The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. VI (another cast illustrated pls. 3-5).
F. Russoli & F. Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S41 (another cast illustrated).
C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 60 (another cast illustrated).
J. Rewald, Degas Complete Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1990, no. VI, p. 54 (the wax version illustrated; another cast illustrated p. 55).
A. Pingeot, Degas' Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 41 (another cast illustrated).
S. Campbell, 'Degas, The Sculptures, A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, no. 402, vol. CXLII, August 1995, no. 47, pp. 33-34 (another cast illustrated).
J.S. Czestochowski & A. Pingeot, Degas' Sculptures, Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 47, p. 213 (another cast illustrated).
S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S.G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, no. 13, pp. 102 - 106 (the wax version illustrated p. 103).
Lausanne, Palais de Beaulieu, Chefs-d'oeuvre des collections suisses, de Manet Picasso, May - October 1964, no. 14.
Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, Exposition Degas, September - November 1976, no. 82; this exhibition later travelled to Kyoto, Museum of the City; and Fukuoka, Cultural Centre.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

Cheval au galop sur le pied droit, at just over 30 centimetres, is the largest of all of Edgar Degas' sculptures of horses. In this strikingly dynamic and exquisitely modeled work, Degas depicts the horse in what is probably a racing gallop as it powerfully and athletically thrusts forward, its tail raised high in the air. There is, in what is an elegant and graceful creation, a sense of the effort and exertion involved, from bulging veins to taut muscles and flared nostrils. There is also a sense of a moment that is frozen in time, a point of bal- ance in the frenzy of the gallop where the forelegs are powerfully pushing forward whilst the back legs are firmly planted into the ground.
Degas conceived two other versions of the galloping horse, both of which are surmounted by jockeys. It has been observed that the chevron-like patterns on the present horse's back and flanks giving the impression of a textile indicate that he may have originally contemplated depicting this horse as mounted (see D. S. Barbour & S. G. Sturman, 'The Horse in Wax and Bronze', in J. Sutherland Boggs, Degas at the Races, exh. cat., Washington, 1998, p. 196). Cheval au galop sur le pied droit was conceived following the explosion of interest in understanding the horse in motion. Texts concerning the French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey's investigations into horse gaits and Eadweard Muybridge's revelatory photographs of moving horses were published in 1878 in the Parisian journal La Nature. In a sketchbook of Degas' from the late 1870s, he jotted down the name of the publisher of this journal, suggesting that he was at least aware of Marey's and Muybridge's work by this time (notebook 31, p. 81). Indeed, Paul Valéry declared that Degas 'was one of the first to study the true appearance of the noble animal by means of Major Muybridge's instantaneous photographs' (Valry, quoted in ibid.). Although there is some disagreement as to how Degas may have used Muybridge's images, the present sculpture bears a resemblance to a number of these, in particular his "Bouquet" Galloping.
Degas' sculptures of horses relate to his studies of the ballerina, both illustrating his endless fascination with capturing movement. The very balletic quality of Cheval au galop sur le pied droit, moreover, reflects Valéry's assertion that his horses were four-legged ballerinas, dancing en pointe outdoors (see S. Glover Lindsay, D.S. Barbour & S. G. Sturman, Edgar Degas: Sculpture, Washington D.C., 2010, p. 64).

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