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The Chariot Race

Wagner, Alexander von
Europe, Germany, Munich
1882 (circa)

First floor: Victorian

oil paint
138.2 x 347 cm

More Details

The Chariot Race around 1882
Alexander von Wagner 1838 - 1919
Oil on canvas

Wagner breathes life into this scene
by making the viewer feel that they are in the path
of the speeding horse-drawn chariots.

Roman chariot racing was exhilarating but dangerous.
In collisions, the flimsy chariots might easily smash
and the charioteer could be dragged to death,
or seriously injured, entangled in the long reins.

Wagner may have been inspired by the novel Ben Hur,
which was published in 1880.
His academic training enabled him to paint convincingly
the Ancient Roman architecture and costume
which provides the backdrop to the drama of the race.

Mrs H Higgins bequest 1898.12