At the Races in the Countryside
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
36.5 x 55.9 cm (14 3/8 x 22 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)
This painting was one of the first works that Degas sold (in 1872) to Paul Durand-Ruel, the dealer who became the early champion of the Impressionists. It is not only a landscape but also a scene from everyday life and - most of all - a family portrait. The driver of the carriage is Degas’s friend Paul Valpinçon, who is shown with his wife, a wet nurse, and in the nurse’s lap, the couple’s son, Henri.
With its subtly ironic title - the races play a minor role in the composition - the painting was among the artist’s contributions to the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874.
Lower left: Degas
September 17, 1872, sold by the artist to Durand-Ruel, Paris (stock no. 1910) [see note 1]; October 12, 1872, sent to Durand-Ruel, London; April 25, 1873, sold by Durand-Ruel through Charles Deschamps, Paris, to Jean-Baptiste Faure (b. 1830 -d. 1914), Paris; January 2, 1893, sold by Faure to Durand-Ruel, Paris (stock no. 2566); March 29, 1918, deposited with the Durand-Ruel family, Les Balans; December 20, 1926, sold by Durand-Ruel, New York to the MFA for $30,000. (Accession Date: December 20, 1926) NOTES:  The provenance given here is taken from Jean Sutherland Boggs, "Degas at the Races" (exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998), p. 248, cat. no. 38.
1931 Purchase Fund