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“Paris Street, Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte

"Paris Street, Rainy Day" by Gustave Caillebotte - Joy of Museums - Art Institute of Chicago

“Paris Street, Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte is his best-known work and depicts 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.

Photography influenced Caillebotte, and he made some of the figures appear out of focus, and others in sharper focus, including the features in the background, which become progressively less focused and intense. The cropping of the man to the far right, further suggests the influence of photography.

The figures in the painting may appear to have walked into the picture as if taking a snapshot of people going about their typical day. The reality is that Gustave Caillebotte spent months carefully planning the pictorial composition. The textured 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 of today’s Place de Dublin, Paris shows the loss of unique character with the loss of the cobblestones, which represent a lost past in this painting.

Paris Street, Rainy Day

  • 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

Gustave Caillebotte

  • 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