Analysis of Degas' Aux Courses en Province (At the Races in the Country)

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Aux Courses en Province is an oil on canvas work, painted by Edgar Degas in 1872. Degas depicts a group of upper-class tourists attending the races in the French countryside. In the lower-right foreground resides a stationary horse carriage. The carriage’s passengers, comprised of a coachman, a small dog and two women - one cradling a baby while the other holds an parasol - appear to be wholly uninterested in the scene behind them, instead …

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…those, brown and green rolling hills rise up to meet the horizon line. Thus, what initially looks like a rather simple and idyllic scene of a pleasant day at the races in the country is in fact another of Degas’ clever visual manipulations. He refuses the renaissance notion of a 2-D plane as a window into depth, and instead plays with the compression of space through the use of cropping, neutral lighting, and color patches.