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Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas: 'Promenade beside the Sea'
The Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery, © Private collection 2000. Used by permission

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In this unassuming painting the young Degas used the motif of the horse and rider which would become of central importance for his art. The site is the Bay of Naples. A male and female rider dressed in black and wearing top hats gallop away from the viewer around the edge of the bay towards a distant row of hills jutting into the sea.

Although the sketch seems to have been made quickly from life, the setting and the figures were both studied in separate drawings before being brought together here.

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