Whether it's Churchill Downs or Longchamp, the special and wonderful excitement of a horse race never fails to inspire those who seek it out. In the 1870s in France Edgar Degas, more generally known for his renderings of the ballet scene, released his excitement in paint and pastel. Roaming the tracks near Paris, he made sketches and notes which he took back to his studio to transform into the sun-filled creations shown on these pages. An eccentric man who disliked most people, animals and the out-of-doors, Degas nonetheless captured their universal appeal.
'Race horses,' done by Degas in 1878, resembles modern-day hunt racing of Maryland and Virginia yet shows influence of Japanese prints on the period.
'Carriage at the races' shows Degas' interest in camera. Fascinated by new "mechanism," he cropped foreground.
'False start' is a scene at the races in 1871. The crowd sits in shade of an ornate grandstand while horses line up.