Lot 19
  • 19

EDGAR DEGAS | Cheval au galop sur le pied droit

1,500,000 - 2,500,000 GBP
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  • Edgar Degas
  • Cheval au galop sur le pied droit
  • inscribed Degas, numbered 47/J and stamped with the foundry mark AA Hébrard cire perdue
  • bronze
  • length: 46cm.
  • 18 1/8 in.
  • Original wax model executed circa 1880s and cast in bronze from 1919 in an edition of 25 known casts. The present example was cast by 1923.


Walther Halvorsen, London (acquired on 3rd March 1923) Private Collection, California (sold: Christie, Manson & Woods, Ltd., London, 25th July 1958, lot 13)

Frank Partridge, London (purchased at the above sale)

Private Collection, United Kingdom

Richard Nathanson, London

Private Collection, Switzerland

Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 8th November 1995, lot 34

Private Collection (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Christie's, New York, 5th November 2014, lot 8)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


John Rewald, Degas: Works in Sculpture, A Complete Catalogue, New York, 1944, no. VI, another cast illustrated p. 41 John Rewald, Degas Sculpture. The Complete Works, London, 1957, no. VI, another cast illustrated pls. 3-5

Franco Russoli & Fiorella Minervino, L'opera completa di Degas, Milan, 1970, no. S41, original wax model illustrated p. 143

Charles W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, no. 60, original wax model illustrated

John Rewald, Degas's Complete Sculpture: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Edition, San Francisco, 1990, no. VI, original wax model illustrated p. 54; another cast illustrated p. 55

Anne Pingeot & Frank Horvat, Degas Sculptures, Paris, 1991, no. 41, another cast illustrated pp. 92, 93 & 172; original wax model illustrated and the present cast listed p. 173

Sara Campbell, 'Degas, The Sculptures: A Catalogue Raisonné', in Apollo, vol. CXLII, no. 402, August 1995, no. 47, another cast illustrated pp. 2 & 33, fig. 45; the present cast listed p. 33

Joseph S. Czestochowski & Anne Pingeot, Degas Sculptures: Catalogue Raisonné of the Bronzes, Memphis, 2002, no. 47, another cast illustrated in colour p. 212; another cast and original wax model illustrated p. 213; the present cast listed p. 213

Sara Campbell, Richard Kendall, Daphne Barbour & Shelley Sturman, Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, 2009, vol. II, no. 43, original wax model and another cast illustrated pp. 262-265; the present cast listed p. 537

Suzanne Glover Lindsay, Daphne S. Barbour & Shelley G. Sturman, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Washington, D.C., 2010, no. 13, original wax model illustrated pp. 103, 104 & 361

Catalogue Note

Cheval au galop sur le pied droit is the largest and most thrilling of all Degas’ equestrian sculptures. Degas’ two engrossing passions, horseracing and ballet, provided him with a rich and exciting social life and the artistic inspiration for the greatest part of his œuvre. As a member of the prestigious Jockey Club, Degas was an habitué of the racecourses at Deauville and Longchamps, where he could study the beauty of thoroughbred horses at close quarters. The present model shows the horse moving at its fastest pace, a position known as a racing gallop on a right lead. The powerful physiognomy and musculature of the animal are beautifully rendered, and discussing the Cheval au galop sur le pied droit Shelley Sturman writes: ‘Degas took great care in modelling the original wax, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. He elegantly portrayed the horse’s delicate ears, flaring nostrils, bulging jowls, and parted lips, which translated beautifully into bronze. A crosshatched or chevron pattern simulating a textile imprint or blanket is present on both flanks and across the top. All of these are skilfully captured in the bronze cast, and none of the horse’s energy is lost in translation from wax to bronze’ (S. Sturman in Degas in the Norton Simon Museum, op. cit., 2009, pp. 262-265).
Famous for his outstanding visual memory, Degas nonetheless saw the advantage of photographs upon which the artist could rely when without a model to hand. The remarkable photographic studies by Eadweard Muybridge taken during the 1880s provided Degas with a unique insight into the mechanics of movement for both sculptures and pastels of equine subjects. Writing on the original wax model Suzanne Glover Lindsay suggests that ‘though linked repeatedly to specific photographs of galloping Thoroughbreds by Muybridge, this wax has affinities with several simultaneously, particularly […] the 1887 studies of “Bouquet” [fig. 1], also on a right lead, with a similar angle to the hind legs, more extended neck, and especially the forward-turned ears’ (S. G. Lindsay in Edgar Degas Sculpture, op. cit., 2010, p. 105). The particular pose was also the basis for Le Jockey (The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; fig. 2), a pastel from the same period as Cheval au galop sur le pied droit, which highlights the role Muybridge’s photographs played in these highly important developments in Degas’ work.