I’ve always liked Caillebotte but haven’t given him much thought recently. Then this painting suddenly reappeared in my life. I’d forgotten how much I like it:
There are so many things that I love about The Floor Scrapers. I love the perspective — it’s as if we’re actually standing there, looking down at these guys planing the floor. They don’t seem to know we’re there. Or maybe they don’t care. And I love the details: their tools, the wood shavings, the wine bottle and full glass (a very civilized way to work),
and the ring on the man’s finger — I particularly like this:
I can almost hear the planes scraping the floor, and smell the wood. It looks like the men may be chatting, although the painting for me feels contemplative, almost meditative. I imagine it’s not for these men, who are earning their living through physical labor, shirts removed due to the heat of their work. (Although I read that this would have been unthinkable at this time in Paris. The men would have kept their shirts on, thank you very much.)
So quickly, Gustave Caillebotte was involved with the Impressionists, but was really a realist painter. He is famous for paintings of Paris, such as Paris Street, Rainy Day, which has been so deeply embedded in my psyche since I was a child, that it may be partially responsible for my love of rain:
Caillebotte’s life seems to have been quite calm. He had enough money to paint as he pleased. You can take a close look at more of his work through the Google Art Project. Check it out. The man could paint!