9 x 12"
oil on panel
If you've been to the Art Institute of Chicago, you know Gustave Caillebotte's enormous painting Paris Street, Rainy Day - it's one of the museum's treasured Impressionist paintings. I've featured it in many paintings of mine in the past years. Paris Street is currently on loan in Berlin and The Floor Scrapers made the long trip from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris to Chicago to take its place. You must grasp how very lucky we are to be able to see this painting - to my knowledge, it has never left France. Ever.
Gustave Caillebotte was an unusual artist in that he was lucky to have been born in a wealthy family whose father owned a textile mill that supplied military needs to Napoleon's army. Gustave got a law degree by the age of 20, trained as an engineer and served in the Franco-Prussian War which devastated France. So presumably, he pitched the law and engineering to study art, as several artists of the time did. He inherited the family fortune at age 26, spent a number of years collecting his fellow artists/friends' paintings and squeezed in about 500 paintings of his own while collecting orchids, building and racing yachts before he died at the age of 46 from heart disease. Interesting enough, Caillebotte never sold any of his paintings (he didn't have to) and his brother donated all of his work to private collectors and museums all over the world.
A little more about The Floor Scrapers - Caillebotte completed it in 1875, submitted into France's most prestigious art exhibition, the Salon, where it was unanimously rejected by the snooty judges because of its depiction of working-class people doing their job without all of their clothes on. They deemed it a 'vulgar subject matter'. Of course the same snooty judges deemed Degas' paintings of a woman washing clothes as 'vulgar' too. Art critics disagreed, calling the decision 'a very bad mark for the official jurors.' So there.
Please click here for a larger view.