Paris Street Rainy Day 1877 bu Gustave Caillebotte is a large oil painting on canvas. Today, it is one of Caillebotte’s famous impressionist paintings.
But what is the story behind this intriguing and enigmatic city scene? First, we explore Caillebotte’s techniques and painterly inspiration.
Who painted Paris Street Rainy Day?
Gustave Caillebotte painted this oil painting on canvas, depicting a series of individuals strolling through drizzly Paris streets
Almost everyone has a black umbrella, protecting themselves against the elements.
The painting draws our eye toward the center of the composition. We focus on the beautiful Paris buildings before gazing around the figures. Caillebotte carefully planned his design, with the horizontal horizon line separating the work into quarters.
When was Caillebotte's famous painting created?
This painting is dated 1877 and entered the Third Impressionist Exhibition of the same year.
Unlike many pictures in the exhibition, Caillebotte’s painting is not a bright, happy scene. Instead, each figure looks downward, and everyone hurries rather than strolls. The umbrellas don’t just protect against the rain. They separate each individual from one another.
In this way, the painting demonstrates the loneliness common to modern urban life. But, compared with other modern impressionist paintings, such as Renoir’s sun-soaked Luncheon of the Boating Party, it’s an unusually downbeat scene.
What message does this impressionist oil painting convey?
The Chicago Institute of Art describes this painting as one of the “great” pictures of “urban life in the late nineteenth century.”
The painting’s light suggests a wintry afternoon. Nevertheless, each figure dresses in the latest contemporary clothing. Indeed, the woman in the foreground wears a fur coat, a fashionable hat, and diamond earrings. Her male companion sports a handsome mustache, top hat, bow tie, and a long coat. In another nod to fashion, his collar stands up.
With these details, Gustave Caillebotte presents the newly affluent French middle classes. Nonetheless, some working-class individuals are just visible. For example, a maid stands in a doorway, and a painter carries a ladder.
Like trends in broader society, these working-class individuals become increasingly invisible.
Is Paris Street Rainy Day realism?
Gustave Caillebotte's paintings present an intriguing mix of impressionism and realism. Unfortunately, while Caillebotte was a patron and friend of many impressionist artists, he didn’t adopt the style himself.
Certain impressionist elements inspired Caillebotte (for instance, the focus on light), but his work is realistic. Caillebotte’s realist technique involved much more careful and detailed brushstrokes. Close observation of everyday appearance was crucial.
In addition, Caillebotte also used distinct outlines and darker colors. In this, he took inspiration from the invention of modern photography. Indeed, Caillebotte’s realism stretched to replicating camera effects.
Look closely, and the pair in the foreground are softer and slightly out of focus. On the other hand, figures in the middle distance have sharp features and clearly defined outlines. Finally, moving toward the back of the composition, the buildings and individuals become blurred.
Caillebotte also crops the work like a quick city snap. Instead of ensuring everyone fits in the composition, the man to the far right only just features.
Where is the painting Paris Street Rainy Day?
Caillebotte’s Paris Street Rainy Day currently hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago, USA.
In terms of the location in the painting, it depicts the “Place de Dublin” in Paris, France. Now known as the “Carrefour de Moscou,” this is a broad, beautiful example of Parisian street architecture.
The painting provides a viewpoint from the east side of the “Rue de Turin,” looking North.
The stunning architecture reflects Baron Haussmann’s neo-classical designs for the French capital. These new boulevards inspired many contemporary artists. Indeed, just twenty years later, Camille Pissarro painted the similarly brilliant Boulevard Montmartre at Night.
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