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The Epsom Derby

Théodore Géricault

The Epsom Derby

Théodore Géricault
  • Date: 1821
  • Style: Romanticism
  • Genre: genre painting
  • Media: oil, canvas
  • Tag: animals, horses, derby
  • Dimensions: 122.5 x 92 cm

The 1821 Derby at Epsom, or Horse Race (Course de chevaux, traditionally called Le Derby de 1821 à Epsom) is an 1821 painting by Théodore Géricault in the Louvre Museum, showing The Derby of that year.

Fascinated by the horses, Géricault made many paintings portraying them. Working for a while at the imperial stables, he had the opportunity to study in detail and made numerous portraits of horses. This work is not related to that series of portraits but it illustrates a similar theme horses, as the artist has done many times, such as in Officer Hunter Horse of the Imperial Guard Charging in 1812 or Race of Free Horses in Rome in 1819.

This work is a rare and valuable example of painting dated from his travel in England, when Géricault preferred to work in lithography. He painted this painting for the English horse dealer Adam Elmore. The painting was acquired by the Musée du Louvre in 1866. The position of the horses' legs in the painting - with both front and hind legs extended outwards - is never actually exhibited by a galloping horse. This was discovered by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878.

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