Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) was a French painter who was a member of the Impressionist group, but painted in a very different style.  Caillebotte worked in a more realistic style, with crisper lines and more precise brushwork.  He was very interested in photography and continually depicted the modernization of Paris and everyday Parisian life.  The Floor Scrapers is one of Caillebotte's best known paintings, along with 1877's Paris Street, Rainy Day.  I was fortunate enough to see this painting in person at Musée d'Orsay last year and the impact is quite remarkable.  What I remember most is the richness of the color.  The wood floor was such a vivid color brown that it seemed to radiate off the canvas, and the sunlight streaming in illuminated everything with such bright intensity.  Caillebotte's draughtsmanship is also impressive; the wood shavings that have been removed curl and pile with focused detail and the men's working musculature is faithfully sculpted.  The image I have included does not entirely do justice to these elements, but the coloration was the closest reproduction I could find.  The painting is a beautiful rendering of this earthy scene, and Caillebotte portrayed it with an intensity and focus that reveals the artist's great interest in such working class scenes.

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