Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)
Rue de Paris. Temps de pluie
Huile sur toile 54 × 65 cm
Legs Michel Monet (1966)
This view taken at the intersection of the Rues de Turin and de Moscou, near Place de l’Europe, is a study for the similarly titled painting now at the Art Institute in Chicago. Less smooth than the finished work and very free in its handling, this preparatory sketch is a snapshot of the new Paris, the city of residential quarters built under the aegis of the prefect Haussmann. In this skillful composition, Caillebotte’s use of perspective is reinforced by numerous vanishing points, dividing the space into two distinct zones on either side of the street lamp. On the right, a man and a woman advance toward the viewer, sheltering under a large umbrella that tells us of rainy weather, an atmosphere also conveyed by the cold shades used. In the background are the less well-defined figures of passers-by, walking through this vast urban panorama. Although his technique was rather more academic, due in part to his studies with Léon Bonnat, he saw himself as belonging to the group of painters of modern life. In their correspondence, Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro all reveal his generosity toward them and the bond between them. It was indeed Caillebotte himself who gave this sketch to Monet, in whose bedroom it still hung at the time of his death.