caillebotte, quickly

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:

Gustave Cailebotte, Les raboteurs de parquet (The Floor Scrapers), 1875, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

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),

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, detail

and the ring on the man’s finger — I particularly like this:

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, detail

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:

Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, Art Institute, Chicago

Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, Art Institute, Chicago

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!

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14 thoughts on “caillebotte, quickly

  1. I love Caillebote’s work also. And he was one of the most important pushers of impressionism. He was the one who organized the exhibition at Nadar’s shop and he used to buy his fellow artists works to help them out. He never tried to sell his work (he did not need the money) so that’s one reason why he wasn’t so known and popular as the other artists of his time. He was also an engineer and he built the boat that Monet and Renoir used to sail with.He was a gifted sailman and won several canooing competitions. He never married and died very young. He left his art collection (all the impressionist works he bought from his friends) to the French government and they refuse to exhibit them. In time, Caillebote’s collection became the basis of the D’orsey museum collection.

    • Hi Vivian — I find it fascinating that he didn’t need to sell his art. Seems like that’s rare. And I’ve always thought of it as liberating — it hadn’t occurred to me that one consequence of that would be that he was less well known. Thanks for reading!
      -Karen

  2. Pingback: Rainy Days with Caillebotte and a Little Bit of Hockney | I've got some art stuck in my eye

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