Paintings by Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-94), a friend of Claude Monet's since 1873, was also a member of the Impressionist core.

Caillebotte's background as an engineer and architect was evident in his sleek urban views. Although trained as a naval architect, Caillebotte chose the city over the ocean. Being a true impressionist, he was fascinated with the changing image of the modern city.

Advertisement

As evident on the following pages, his subjects provided a true record of urban life: workmen sanding hardwood floors; a man at a balcony railing looking out on a broad avenue of pristine new apartment buildings. Click on the links below to learn more.

  • The Floor Scrapers: With this painting, Gustave Caillebotte made his Impressionist debut at the second Impressionist exhibition.
  • Paris Street; Rainy Day: Looking at this painting, Emile Zola predicted that Gustave Caillebotte would prove to be the most innovating in the Impressionist group. Decide for yourself on this page.
  • Boating on the Yerres (Perissoires sur l'Yerres): In this boating scene, Gustave Caillebotte's Impressionist visions truly shine through. See how.
  • Le Pont de l'Europe: Check out Le Pont de l'Europe and learn how Gustave Caillebotte used the cool palette to convey the city's industrial make-up.
  • Rooftops in the Snow, Paris: Learn how this Impressionist painting was one of 23 works that Gustave Caillebotte showed at the fourth Impressionist exhibition -- and the most daring.
  • In a Café: Gustave Caillebotte's depictions of city life possessed a strong sense of immediacy. See this Impressionist painting.

The first Caillebotte painting in this article is The Floor Scrapers, which is truly a modern painting both in terms of subject matter and composition.

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte

The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte is an oil on canvas (39-3/8 x 57-1/4 inches). It can be seen at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte is an oil on canvas (39-3/8 x 57-1/4 inches). It can be seen at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

With The Floor Scrapers (1875), Gustave Caillebotte joined the Impressionist circle for the second exhibition. He participated in four subsequent exhibitions. His vision was adamantly modern, choosing subjects that preserved glimpses of Parisian life: interiors, views over the rooftops from balconies, strollers on the bridges and avenues, and even workmen finishing a fine wood floor in a new apartment.

Caillebottes sense of light is unmistakable -- even when the subject of his painting is a rainy day as in the Impressionist painting on the next page.

Advertisement

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Paris Street: Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte's Paris Street; Rainy Day is an oil on canvas (83-1/2 x 108-3/4 inches), which is owned by The Art Institute of Chicago.
Gustave Caillebotte's Paris Street; Rainy Day is an oil on canvas (83-1/2 x 108-3/4 inches), which is owned by The Art Institute of Chicago.

In Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), Gustave Caillebotte caught the temperament of modern-day Paris. The broad span of the boulevards, the impressive forms of the apartment blocks, and the elegant composure of the figures appear as urban icons. The effect of the misting rain on a gray day has the credible force of first-hand observation. Critic Émile Zola admired the epic scale of this Impressionist painting and predicted that Gustave Caillebotte would prove to be the boldest innovator in the group.

Gustave Caillebotte also painted the leisurely side of modern life. This next Impressionist painting, Boating on the Yerre, is full of dynamics in spite of its relaxed subject.

Advertisement

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Boating on the Yerres (Perissoires sur l Yerres) by Gustave Caillebotte

Boating on the Yerres (Perissoires sur l'Yerres) by Gustave Caillebotte is an oil on canvas (40-3/4 x 61-3/8 inches) that is housed in Milwaukee Art Museum.
Boating on the Yerres (Perissoires sur l'Yerres) by Gustave Caillebotte is an oil on canvas (40-3/4 x 61-3/8 inches) that is housed in Milwaukee Art Museum.

Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte loved water sports, and Boating on the Yerres (Perissoires sur l'Yerres) (1877) is a return to his boyhood, when he and his brothers rowed on the Yerres River near their family's country home. After focusing on the street scene for several years, Gustave Caillebotte approached boating scenes for his compositions. He created a sophisticated and subtle tension by painting multiple axes; in this case, the horizon and reflections are countered by the diag­onal paths of the boats.

The difference in color palette between Gustave Caillebotte's country paintings and his depictions of city life is striking. The next Impressionist painting, Le Pont de l'Europe, uses all cool colors.

Advertisement

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Le Pont de l Europe by Gustave Caillebotte

Le Pont de l'Europe by Gustave Caillebotte is an oil on canvas (49-1/8 x 71-1/8 inches), which is on display at Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva.
Le Pont de l'Europe by Gustave Caillebotte is an oil on canvas (49-1/8 x 71-1/8 inches), which is on display at Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva.

In Gustave Caillebotte's Impressionist painting Le Pont de l'Europe (1876), the strong diagonal of the massive iron trusses pulls the viewer's gaze along the pedestrian path, as if joining in the random actions of Parisians out for a stroll. The cool tones of Caillebotte's palette enforce the sense of the city's fabric -- built of stone, iron, and concrete -- even in the light of a mild, sunny day.

Gustave Caillebotte painted Paris in all kinds of different light. In the next Impressionist painting, snow covers up the city's features and reflects the sparse winter light.

Advertisement

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Rooftops in the Snow, Paris by Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte's Rooftops in the Snow, Paris is an oil on canvas (25-5/8 x 31-7/8 inches), which can be seen at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Gustave Caillebotte's Rooftops in the Snow, Paris is an oil on canvas (25-5/8 x 31-7/8 inches), which can be seen at Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

With Rooftops in the Snow, Paris (1878) and 22 other Impressionist paintings, Gustave Caillebotte was well-represented at the fourth Impressionist exhibition. This, his most daring work, provided a view -- perhaps from a balcony or attic window -- across Parisian rooftops covered with snow. For the most part, the rooftops are nondescript, punctuated only by chimney stacks and dormer windows, but the unfolding view, high across the city, has a distinctively urban aesthetic.

The last Impressionist painting by Gustave Caillebotte in this article is an interior in which the artist used mirrors to enhance the sense of space in his composition.

Advertisement

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

In a Cafe by Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte's In a Café is an oil on canvas (61 x 45-1/4 inches), which belongs to Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France.
Gustave Caillebotte's In a Café is an oil on canvas (61 x 45-1/4 inches), which belongs to Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France.

In a Café (1880) was one of Gustave Caillebotte's contributions to the fifth Impressionist exhibition. Without Caillebotte's financial support, the Impressionist exhibitions might not have happened. In his art, he continued to explore the modern-life subject, often enhancing the sense of immediacy in his compositions by using reflections in mirrors to extend the illusion of space beyond the painting's frame.

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Advertisement

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff, Ph.D., is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American paintings. She is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library and an adjunct associate professor and adjunct lecturer at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.