Gustave Caillebotte Paris Street; Rainy Day,1877

1336 words - 6 pages

Perhaps one of the most recognizable paintings of 19th century France is Gustave Caillebote’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day”. The painting was begun in 1876 and finished early in 1877. Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day” was exhibited for the first time in the Third Impressionist exhibition in Paris, held in 1877. Currently displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago depicts the intersection of the rue de Moscou and the rue de Turin , on the rue de Leningrad from Saint-Lazare Station at its southwest end to the Place Clichy. The street was called the New Paris, or the modern capital of Europe. The streets , buildings and the services that can be seen in the ...view middle of the document...

The balance is asymmetrical with some strong diagonals. The diagonal placement of the figures leads toward the right side. The scale of the work is 28 3/4 x 44 5/8, and the proportion is naturalistic. The subject is two figures, one a rescuer and the other the person being rescued. The style is representational.
“Paris Street; Rainy Day “ is a rectangular painting depicting a street of Paris. A vertical lamppost and its shadow extend from the top edge to the bottom edge , neatly dividing the painting in half. A horizon line , extending from the left side and three-quarters of the way to the right , further divides the painting , crossing four major quadrants. Because this horizon line is positioned just above center, the bottom half the composition is slightly larger than the top. A dozen pedestrians with umbrellas occupy the bottom half of the painting. At the right edge, a man strides into the painting , while next to him a couple moves out of the painting , towards the viewer. The left of the lamppost , most of the movement is horizontal, as people cross the cobblestone streets.
'Paris Street, A Rainy Day' by Gustave Caillebotte is an excellent example of how to use a central eye level. In this scene, the viewer shares the same eye level as the strolling figures. This creates the strong illusion that you are walking or standing on the same street. The common eye level forms a spatial link between you and the other figures and psychologically you feel that you are part of the scene. The picture frame becomes your field of vision and you almost get the sense that you need to step aside to avoid brushing shoulders with the approaching gentleman. This intimate relationship between the viewer and the image is what makes the work so popular. It is like taking a look through a window in time.
The painting is very carefully arranged. The strong eye level divides the picture horizontally, while the lamp-post and its reflection bisect it vertically. These lines intersect at the central vanishing point, creating four rectangles, each of which contributes a separate element to the composition of the painting (mouse over the image to view this structure):
1) The lower right rectangle with the boldest shapes and strongest contrasts, establishes the foreground.
2) The lower left rectangle with its triangular arrangement of figures that echo the shape of the building above, stakes out the middle ground.
3) The upper right rectangle links the foreground and background as the buildings recede in sequence from behind the umbrellas.
4) The upper left rectangle provides the main background interest with both sides of an apartment block viewed in dramatic perspective.
It is hard to avoid the idea that the shapes which fill the upper rectangles are subconsciously influenced by Caillebotte's training as a naval architect.
“Paris Street, Rainy Day “ is a perfect example of “ great art” because this piece is evocative....

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