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Caillebotte, Gustave (1848 - 1894)
Paris Street; Rainy DayDate: 1877
Technique: Oil on canvas
Museum: Art Institute of Chicago
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Size: 212.2 x 276.2 cm,
Notes: Gustave Caillebotte, who was independently wealthy, helped to finance and organize several of the Impressionist exhibitions, including the third, which was held in Paris in 1877 and featured his own monumental Paris Street; Rainy Day. This painting is a spectacular portrait of the French capital, with its broad boulevards and tunneling vistas, as it was radically reconfigured under Prefect Baron Georges EugĂ¨ne von Haussmann. Scaffolding is visible in the far background, just to the right of the center lamppost, suggesting that the cityâ€™s controversial "Haussmannization" was still in progress. Caillebotte himself owned property near this intersection in the prosperous eighth arrondissement. Populated with fashionable women and men, as well as with workers of various sorts, the canvas is an impressive rendition of the new urban environment that the artist both observed and inhabited. Caillebotte and his Impressionist colleagues shared an interest in the strikingly modern spaces of Paris. But Caillebotteâ€™s workâ€”unlike Claude Monetâ€™s atmospheric renderings of train stations Pierre Auguste Renoirâ€™s anecdotal images of popular entertainment venuesâ€”focuses on the psychology of individual experience. Relying on draftsmanship more than on texture or color, in Paris Street; Rainy Day he created a composition that combines apparent spontaneity with precise choreography. Each well-dressed couple or individual strolls in a different direction, avoiding eye contact; no narrative incidents result from their random proximity. Yet the figures do relate to one another formally, for their glances, postures, and relative sizes all complement and reinforce the converging diagonals that dictate the paintingâ€™s perspective.
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