Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Gustave Caillebotte and The Floor Scrapers

'The Floor Scrapers' (1875) by Gustave Caillebotte; Musée d'Orsay, Paris

I know the French painter Gustave Caillebotte, born on 19 August 1848 and died on 21 February 1894, mainly from his wonderful painting 'The Floor Scrapers', shown here. Actually, I had thought for a long time that it had been painted by Gustave Courbet but it could be that it was just a confusion about their names that are much alike. Whereas Courbet was a Realist painter, Caillebotte belonged to the group of Impressionists. He distinguished himself by painting in a more realistic manner than his fellow Impressionists. Early on he was also interested in photography as an art form. He made his debut at the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876 at the Paris Salon and showed eight paintings including 'The Floor Scrapers'. It was then already recognised as a masterpiece. At the Paris exhibition a year earlier, the painting had been rejected because critics thought it to be 'vulgar'. They found only portrayals of farmers and peasants acceptable. I love this painting because it is so powerful. But Caillebotte has painted so much more that is truly beautiful. He made everyday life in Paris a recurrent subject of his paintings. The use of light in these paintings is unmistakable, even when the subject matter is a rainy day. To cheat once more, click here.

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