Paris Street; Rainy Day

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212.2 × 276.2 centimetres (83.5 × 108.7 in), Art Institute of Chicago


Paris Street; Rainy Day (or Paris: A Rainy Day) is a large 1877 oil painting by the French artist Gustave Caillebotte. It is one of Caillebotte's best known works. The piece depicts the Place de Dublin, known in 1877 as the Carrefour de Moscou, a road intersection to the east of the Gare Saint-Lazare in north Paris. It debuted at the Third Impressionist Exhibition of 1877 and is currently owned by the Art Institute of Chicago.[1] Art Institute curator Gloria Groom described the piece as "the great picture of urban life in the late 19th century."[2]

The painting shows the view from the eastern side of the rue de Turin, looking north towards the Place de Dublin. The neoclassical buildings reflect the construction works of Baron Haussmann. Three roads are visible on the northern side of the square: the rue de Moscou (left), the rue Clapeyron (center), and the continuation of the rue de Turin (right). The square is also crossed at an angle by the rue de Saint-Pétersbourg, suggested by the line of the buildings to the left and a break in the buildings to the right. The arrangement of the roads and the buildings allows Caillebotte to use two-point perspective.

Émile Zola, previously a critic of Caillebotte, praised this work in an article "Notes parisiennes: Une exposition: les peintres impressionnistes" published in Le Sémaphore de Marseille on 19 April 1877.

Caillebotte's interest in photography is evident from the painting. The figures in the foreground appear slightly "out of focus", those in the mid-distance (the carriage and the pedestrians in the middle of the intersection) have sharp edges, while the features in the background becomes progressively indistinct. The severe cropping of some figures - particularly the man to the far right - further suggests the influence.

The point-focus of the image highlights the dimensions and draws the viewer's eye to the vantage point at the centre of the buildings in the background. The figures appear to have walked into the painting, as though Caillebotte was taking a snapshot of people casually going about their day, hiding the fact that he spent months carefully placing his figures within the pictorial space.

The strong vertical of the central green lamppost divides the painting in half, with another strong horizontal alignment breaking the painting into four quarters. The two principal figures in the right foreground are a fashionable man and woman walking together under an umbrella: he with top hat, moustache, bow tie, starched white shirt, buttoned waistcoat and open long coat with collar turned up; she with her hat, veil, diamond earring and demure brown dress. The main figures are from the well-dressed middle class, but some working class figures can be seen in the background (a maid in a doorway, a painter carrying a ladder). Caillebotte juxtaposes the figures and the perspective in a playful manner, with one man appearing to jump from the wheel of a carriage and another pair of legs appearing below the rim of an umbrella.

The painting remained in the Caillebotte family until 1955, when it was sold to Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.. It was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1964.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877. Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  2. ^ Hedy Weiss. "Gustave Who?" Chicago Sun-Times. 12 February 1995.
  3. ^ Paris Street; Rainy Day1877, Google Art Project

External links[edit]