The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

Paris Street, Rainy Day

Gustave Caillebotte - Paris Street; Rainy Day - Google Art Project

“Paris Street, Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte is a large oil painting and is his best known work. It depicts a number Parisians walking in the rain through the Place de Dublin, in 1877 Paris.

Caillebotte was a friend of many of the impressionist painters and this painting is part of that tradition, however it differs in its realism and reliance on line rather than broad brush strokes. It also reflects Caillebotte’s interest in photography. The figures in the foreground appear out of focus, those in the mid-distance have a sharper focus, while the features in the background become progressively less focused and sharp. The cropping of the man to the far right, further suggests the influence of photography.

Gustave Caillebotte, 1877 - Rue de Paris, jour de pluie (étude)

A Study by Gustave Caillebotte in planning for “Paris Street, Rainy Day”

The figures in the painting may appear to have walked into the painting, as if taking a snapshot of people going about their normal day. The reality is that Gustave Caillebotte spent months carefully planning the pictorial composition. The detailed cobblestones dominate almost a quarter of the painting as if that was where the photo was focused.

Place de Dublin, Paris May 2010

2010 photograph of the Place de Dublin depicted in the painting.

The picture above shows the loss of character with the loss of the cobblestones. The cobblestones represent a lost past.

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Essential Facts:

  • Title:                         Paris Street, Rainy Day
  • Artist:                       Gustave Caillebotte
  • Year:                         1877
  • Medium:                  Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions             212.2 × 276.2 cm (83.5 × 108.7 in)
  • Museum:                  Art Institute of Chicago

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:                   Gustave Caillebotte
  • Born:                     1848 – Paris, France
  • Died:                      1894 (aged 45) – Gennevilliers, France
  • Nationality:          French
  • Movement:           Realism, Impressionism
  • Notable works:
    • Portrait de l’artiste (Self-portrait). c. 1892. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
    • Les raboteurs de parquet, 1875, Musée d’Orsay
    • Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, Art Institute of Chicago
    • Voiliers à Argenteuil, 1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
    • Yellow Roses in a Vase, 1882, Dallas Museum of Art

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“Of course one should not drink much, but often.” Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

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Photo Credit: 1) Gustave Caillebotte [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Rodney (Place de Dublin) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons