Throughout his career, Edgar Degas took an interest in equestrian scenes and executed numerous works on the theme. Most of the horses he chose to depict were Thoroughbreds: horses bred specifically for speed and as potential competitive racers. As Degas spent time with such animals, he further developed an innate ability to capture their elegant, spirited movements. After the artist’s death, nearly one hundred and fifty clay and wax maquettes of horses and other subjects were discovered in his studio and apartment. Although it may never have been the artist’s intention to distinguish these works with the permanence of bronze, Degas’s heirs approved the casting of seventy-two figures from this group, including Horse with Head Lowered. Acting more like three-dimensional sketches, such objects allowed the artist to further explore the dynamics of movement and muscular tension within the body.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017