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The Courses (Les courses)

Based on the right-hand sheet of an 1864 watercolor, Race Course at Longchamp (Harvard Art Museums), this lithograph does more than merely replicate the former’s design (in reverse). It captures the inherent energy and spontaneity of the racetrack. By moving the horses further into the distance and simplifying the rail and people, the print emphasizes speed and the sense of a fleeting moment in time. Edouard Manet used a simple lithographic crayon to create an abstracted pattern of quick gestural marks that move the viewer’s eye through the composition, while at the same time suggesting real space. Considered a masterpiece of Impressionistic printmaking, it is unclear why Manet never published this large-scale print. The Eskenazi Museum of Art’s work is one of only four lifetime proofs known to exist.

Edouard Manet
French, 1832–1883
The Courses (Les courses)
1865–72
Lithograph on chine collé
Image: 14 5/16 x 20 ¼ in. (36.4 x 51.4 cm); sheet: 17 7/8 x 23 ½ in. (45.4 x 59.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.118