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Young Spartans Exercising, Oil by Edgar Degas (1834-1917, France)
Young Spartans Exercising, also known as Young Spartans, is an oil on canvas painting by French impressionist artist Edgar Degas. The work depicts two groups of male and female Spartan youths exercising, though the subject matter of the painting has, in recent times, been challenged. The work is now in the permanent collection of The National Gallery in London. The painting depicts as its subject matter two groups of youths, four women and five men, with the young women apparently taunting or beckoning the men. The women are positioned to the left of the painting, the men to the right, while in-between the two groups in the background appear a third group watching the youths; their appearance striking as they are fully dressed while the youths in the foreground stand naked or topless. Behind the onlookers, identified as Lycurgus and the youths' mothers, lies the city of Sparta, dominated by Mount Taygetus, from which the bodies of the society's "unfit" children were supposedly thrown.