This small and unusual oil is claustrophobic in its intensity. In a dark woodland setting, a chestnut horse is tethered to a tree. The horse is saddled, but its rider is nowhere in sight. Degas suggests the horse's character – its hind legs are splayed as it pulls to get free, its head held high.
Working from sketches and from memory, Degas captures the essentials of the animal's movement by using a strong outline and giving us few, distracting details. Degas' horses are usually passive, and in comparison to the works by Géricault – 'Trumpeters of the Lancers of the Guard' or 'Prancing Grey Horse' – also in the Burrell Collection, this horse seems passive.
Where to see this painting?
The Burrell Collection
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection
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