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Paris street, Rainy day – Gustave Caillebotte

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In this Oil on canvas painting Gustave Caillebotte is revealing the amazing talent he got to turn a real life picture into a painting. In this painting _Paris Street, Rainy day_ the artist selected a complex intersection in Paris near Saint Lazare train station. This painting was painted during the time Napoleon III government was transforming old streets into new system. It was first exhibited in 1887 and it’s now exhibiting at the art institute of Chicago. The general scene that’s taking place in the painting is there is couple of people absorbed in their own world walking through the rain. It is such a beautiful painting it is guaranteed to catch our attention. Every little detail Caillebotte used to make this painting beautiful is terrific. _Paris Street, Rainy day_ is painted using oil on canvas. “It is the process of painting with pigments that bound with medium of drying oil mainly linseed oil.”(Wikipedia) In this paper we are going to look at the extreme details of such a beautiful paintings and the technique Caillebotte used to create this master piece.

In his master piece _Paris Street, Rainy day_ Gustave Caillebotte did a terrific job of using the lamp post as a vertical line and the horizon as a horizontal line therefore dividing the picture into four insets. The lamp post also seems to divide the fore ground from back ground. This minor detail that he uses to divide the picture plays a very important role in making his master piece beautiful. He uses expressive soft sensual lines as well as a little bit of classical lines in the painting. He uses a variety of outlines on the people who is walking by and on the buildings in the background. He also uses contour lines on the tiles and on the coat.

The line of sight plays a significant role in this painting. The two people on the foreground are looking to their right which makes us the viewers of the painting wonder what they are looking at. The way they are looking to the right of the picture grabs our attention to the people who are walking at that end who are looking forward to another guy who is walking in front of them. He is looking down at the beautiful tiles with water and it also makes the viewer wonder if he is depressed. These lines which grabs our attention subconsciously is called implied lines. So subconsciously for the viewer, this line of sight Caillebotte created plays a huge role in the painting. It gives a deeper meaning to the painting.

The Shapes in the painting _Paris Street, Rainy day_ plays a huge role in adding depth to the painting. The first thing we would notice when we look at the picture is the unique shape of the building in the back ground. The building looks like it’s getting smaller and smaller as the picture recedes. It looks like a triangle which makes the surrounding look like its 3d. Other shape that has to be mentioned is the shapes of human beings in the picture. In the foreground which right in front of the lamp post, the three humans are pretty large compared to the sizes of the human beings in the background. The three guys who are walking towards the lamp post look relatively smaller than the people on the foreground but relatively larger than the people near the building. These shapes and size Caillebotte uses in the painting adds depth to the painting. In other words it makes it look like 3d therefore making the painting incredible beautiful.

The Colors used by Caillebotte in the paintings are one of the most important key ingredients which transform this painting into a master piece. The usage of light in this painting is remarkable. The light reflection on top of umbrellas and the water on the floor makes this painting incredible. The gradual shift from light to dark on top of the umbrella is an example of shading he uses. Another example of shading is if we look at the floor or tiles at the background its very light but it gradually becomes dark as we look at the foreground. He also uses chiaroscuro which is the dramatic shift from light to dark in the painting.

An example of chiaroscuro is the light floor to the dark black coat of the human being on the foreground. Another example would be the white shirt and the black vest of the gentle man with the lady on the foreground. Another fact that is worth mentioning about this picture is that he uses polychromatic colors. Polychromatic colors are many colors in one painting. If we look at the brown building or the cloths or the floor it’s using many different colors. This terrific use of light and colors by Gustave Caillebotte adds a dramatic effect on the painting.

In this painting by Caillebotte he uses precise academic texture. When you look at the painting there are not many visible painting strokes. When we look real close into this monumental painting we can see a little bit of stroke around the ladies dress. Other than that this painting looks like a real life picture. Gustave Caillebotte made this painting into his master piece by using implied texture which is the same as the academic texture. It looks so professional like he learned painting in school. The beautiful texture makes this painting incredible attractive. The size of this painting is remarkable. Gustave Caillebotte painted this painting on 83 1/2 x 108 3/4in canvas.It a massive painting. It takes a good portion of the wall in art institute of Chicago. To view this painting we need to literally step away about 25 feet. The media he uses on this painting is oil on canvas.

All these different techniques as mentioned before turns this work of art into a masterpiece. We have to appreciate the master mind who worked behind this incredible work. Gustave Caillebotte who was behind this terrific creation of art was born in upper-class Parisian family. “He was part of the group of artists called impressionists.” (Wikipedia) His wealthy status helped funding of impressionists. “He began his career by painting several very large pictures of the newly constructed neighborhoods of Paris”. “The artist’s family owned property in the busy neighborhood depicted here in the painting, which was populated by wealthy Parisians and workers of various sorts.” (Art institute of Chicago). One of the reasons why the people in the painting were dressed up so well was because mostly everyone who lived near this neighborhood was wealthy. This painting is generally interpreted as a reaction to Napoleon III government changes. This painting reflects the change from old age to modern age. The buildings in the back ground and their shape suggest a new outlook to the city.

When I first looked at this wonderful master piece I was startled; I literally stood in front of this painting for at least fifteen minutes and gazed on it. First of all I was impressed by the originality of the painting. This painting looked more alive than an actual picture. When I looked into the painting I was amazed by how he created such a dramatic depth to the painting. The gentleman and the lady who is walking in the foreground had something special to them. Both of them looked very confident and proud of themselves. They looked so deep in their thoughts and they were formally dressed. It made me wonder what they were looking at so curiously. Then I found out it’s the genius of Gustave Caillebotte to get us looking in that specific direction. The guy who is right behind the lamp post intrigued me. He looked depressed and lonely. He had this special power to him that made me focus on him for a while.

Later on I figured out it was another Caillebotte’s trick to get us notice the water on the tile. Water that was on the tiles impressed me the most about the painting. It was so beautiful the way he painted the water on the tiles. It looked very real and dramatic. It just shows us the amazing talent of Caillebotte. Another amazing quality of this painting that captured my thoughts was the buildings. The triangular shape of the building was really a unique but beautiful feature. This building added more depth to the painting as well. Another thing that I noticed was how triangle shape of the building kind of reflected the triangle formation formed by the three groups of humans at the background. The size difference of humans from fore ground to the back ground added a 3d effect to the painting. Humans got dramatically small compared to the humans on the foreground. Another Intriguing fact about the painting was the lamp post in the middle of the painting. It divided the painting into four different insets when combined with the horizon line and it separated the background with the fore ground. The monumental size played a huge role in attracting me to this painting as well. Overall this has to be one of my favorite if not favorite painting of all time.

Gustave Caillebotte’s master piece _Paris Street, Rainy day_ has been one of the most interesting paintings in history and at present. Any body that walks into the art institute of Chicago spends a lot of time just staring at the beauty of this amazing painting to figure out what makes it so beautiful. The use of minor details such as the lamp post which with the help of horizon line divides the picture into four different parts or how it creates a background and foreground for the picture has been mastered by Caillebotte in this painting. I don’t know what it is that makes me so attracted to this painting may be it’s the minor detail as mentioned before.

May be it’s the monumental size of the painting itself. It can also be the fact that each human being looks like they have emotions in the painting. It may be the magical touch of Caillebotte that brings life to this picture. Caillebotte has really made this painting into his masterpiece by these extreme details and techniques which have transformed this painting into my favorite painting.


“Gustave Caillebotte French, 1848-1894.” The Art Institute of Chicago. 15 Oct. 2007 .

“Gustave Caillebotte.” Wikipedia. 12 Oct. 2007. 16 Oct. 2007 .

“Oil Painting.” Wikipedia. 14 Oct. 2007. 16 Oct. 2007 .

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